I present to you my sardine meatballs a beccafico: my personal reinterpretation of a famous Sicilian dish. Small nuggets of taste interspersed with slices of baked fennel and scented with lemon.
You can use fresh sardines, increasing the cooking times a bit, or transform these sardines into a pantry recipe, using canned sardines. In fact, fish preserves are a very precious pantry ingredient, an indispensable ally of many of my “save dinner” recipes.
The traditional recipe (even if the versions are really many and rich in local nuances) provides that the sardines are rolled and stuffed with stale bread, pine nuts and raisins. Instead, I chose to use all these ingredients in the dough for the meatballs (how strange, I never do!) and combine them with slices of fennel instead of citrus wedges. However, I sprinkled with lemon juice and sprinkled with the rind of its untreated peel before baking. For the appearance, on the other hand, I was inspired by recipe by Gessica, putting my meatballs on a skewer and alternating them with the fennel layers.
But let's come to us and the recipe for my sardine meatballs a beccafico, baked au gratin with fennel and many ingredients from the pantry.
ingredients for 20 sardine balls a beccafico
- 100 g of canned sardines
- 1 egg
- 1 fennel
- 2 slices of stale bread
- 1 tablespoon of raisins
- 1 tablespoon of toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 organic lemon (with edible peel)
- a bunch of aromatic herbs to taste
- Salt and Pepper To Taste
- extra virgin olive oil to taste
HOW TO PREPARE MY VERSION OF THE TRADITIONAL RECIPE
First I prepared the ingredients for the meatballs, combining raisins, pine nuts, beaten egg and canned sardines, carefully drained, in a bowl. I blended with the help of a fork (I like the coarse and irregular consistency, as well as feeling all the ingredients intact, so I didn't blend).
With one of the two slices of bread I made some breadcrumbs, which I used to make the mixture firmer and more compact (if necessary you can add more, up to the desired consistency). I peppered and, with wet hands, I formed elongated meatballs. I haven't salted because the flavor of the fish is enough for me, but feel free to adjust the taste to your liking.
Meanwhile, I cleaned the fennel (keeping the "beards" for the final decoration) and obtained some wedges, which I inserted between one meatball and the other, skewered everything with skewer sticks (in my metal case like these *). I greased a small pan and placed my meatball skewers, sprinkled them with lemon juice (preserving the skins) and baked, static oven, at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.
5 minutes from the end of cooking, I sprinkled the sardine meatballs with the second slice of bread, reduced to crumbs, and mixed with a finely chopped herbs, the grated lemon peel, the oil, this time extra virgin, and a sprinkling of pepper.
I finished cooking and served my sardine meatballs a beccafico on the table with the green fennel "beards" and a drizzle of raw oil.