- 60 ml red wine vinegar (¼ cup)
- 40 gm currants (¼ cup)
- 30 gm pine nuts
- 120 gm coarse sourdough breadcrumbs
- 60 gm parmesan, finely grated
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon and juice of 2, plus lemon wedges to serve
- 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 24 sardines, butterflied
- 24 fresh bay leaves (halved if large)
- Juice of ½ an orange
- To serve: radicchio and rocket salad
- 1Combine vinegar and currants in a bowl and set aside until currants are plump (30 minutes).
- 2Preheat oven to 190C. Scatter pine nuts on an oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally, until golden (3-4 minutes). Set aside.
- 3Combine currants, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, garlic, pine nuts, lemon rind, half the lemon juice and 40ml olive oil in a bowl and season to taste.
- 4Place sardines on a work surface skin-side down. Working with a sardine at a time, place 1 tbsp breadcrumb mixture on one end, roll to enclose filling, secure with a toothpick and thread on a bay leaf. Repeat with remaining sardines, breadcrumb mixture and bay leaves. Place in an oven dish lined with baking paper, drizzle with orange juice, remaining lemon juice and remaining oil, season to taste and bake until golden and cooked through (12-15 minutes). Serve warm with lemon wedges, and radicchio and rocket salad.
Note This dish is named after the beccafico, a species of warbler. (Its name translates loosely as "bird that pecks at figs".) Sicilians once hunted and cooked the birds and served them with their tail feathers intact for ease of grasping and eating. The sardines, rolled up with their tails sticking out, resemble those little birds. Drink suggestion by Max Allen