Becafico: a small bird. (Silvia hortensis), which is highly prized by Italians for the delicacy of its flesh in the autumn, when it has fed on figs, grapes, etc.
Becco means mouth in Italian.
Apparently, the small sardines when stuffed and lined up in a pan, look like tiny birds and are very tasty.
Sardines beccafico (very Sicilian!)
lb of sardines, fresh, filleted—no heads or spines.
2-3 figs or fig jam (or small raisins, or not)
pine nuts (or not)
This is my recipe that my nephew Stefan made the other night for his mother’s birthday–he did the sardines without the nuts or sweet fruit and they were scrumptious. Of course the fresher the better and these were caught only hours before by nephew Stefan…the only one in the family who cooks like me! As a kid, he was always checking out what I was making and what I did in the kitchen and pitched in with anything and everything. He learned the way I did–by stealing with his eyes–the only way to learn to cook and rip-off recipes!
When he went away to UF I gave him The Joy of Cooking because he couldn’t take me with him…though I got many a phone call: “Zia, how do you do this or that???”
Okay, okay, okay. Enough sentimentality here…let’s get to it!
Lay out the filleted sardines in an oven proof pan that has been rubbed with olive oil and garlic.
Squeeze juice of three lemons and drizzle olive oil and a splash of vino over the sardines.
For the stuffing:
In a bowl combine the olive oil, bread crumbs, grated cheese, and seasonings: garlic powder or some crushed garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, chopped parsley, paprika and capers
Smush together the stuffing ingredients, yes, with your fingers! The stuffing should be moist to the touch. Fill the sardines.
Bake in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes. May garnish with a mint or basil leaf.
Serve with bruschetta, or without!
(You can actually do this stuffing and method with any small fish, but of course, you knew that, right? I love that you’re catching on!)