Alici alla Beccafico

On their final night in Grottaglie, I made my parents a full Italian meal with a primo and a secondo. It would have seemed like a little at any Italian’s table, but was more than enough for us. I made spaghetti with mussels as our primo and alici alla beccafico as our secondo.

As I have mentioned in past posts, my mother is allergic to wheat and gets a terrible cough whenever she eats anything with wheat in it. The gluten-free products in Italy are phenomenal and not prohibitively expensive. While talking with my friend Orsola I learned that people with celiac disease in Italy are given a voucher every month from the public health system to compensate for the cost of these products. Despite all of Italy’s problems that is one of the most civil things I have ever heard. We were all so happy that I was able to make pasta (made with rice and corn) and anchovies, which were stuffed and smothered in bread, for everyone, without my mother feeling deprived or coughing up a lung.

I was so excited to finally make anchovies. It is the first time I have ever prepared fresh anchovies, I had a quick lesson from my mother-in-law on how to clean them on our last trip. I have always loved Sicilian seafood dishes with raisins and pine nuts, but shied away from this classic because I wasn’t sure I could stomach cleaning these little guys. It was easier than I thought it would be, nasty, yes, but my daughter stood on a chair next to the sink and watched me do it without flinching, so it really can’t be that bad. I’m happy that she is getting her training so early!

Alici alla Beccafico

  • 1 kilo (2.25 lbs) of fresh anchovies or sardines
  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) of bread, crusts removed
  • 4 salted anchovies
  • 50 grams (1.75 oz) capers
  • 40 grams (1.5 oz) raisins, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
  • 40 grams (1.5 oz) pine nuts
  • 50 grams (1.75 oz) toasted almonds
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • a few sprigs of parsley, chopped
  • breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • sale
  • pepper

Clean the anchovies, remove the heads, the guts and the spine, rinse them well and open them up like a book, leaving the tail intact, which is what holds them together. Dry them off with paper towels.

Make the stuffing by toasting the bread in a drizzle of oil. When the bread is toasted mix it together in a bowl with a tbsp of lemon juice, a tbsp of olive oil, lemon zest, the sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat a small pan over low heat with a drizzle of olive oil, add the anchovies and allow them to dissolve into the oil. When the anchovies have dissolved add them to the bowl with bread. Add the chopped parsley, capers, raisins, pine nuts and chopped almonds, mix well. Use a food processor to create a homogenous blend, though I do not have one and liked the inconsistencies of the bread mix, so the food processor can be an option.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Spread a little bit of the stuffing in the anchovies and close them up like a book, placing them next to one another in an oiled baking dish. You can separate them with a few bay leaves for the aroma. Drizzle a little oil on the anchovies and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top, or what has remained of the stuffing. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. Remove from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

One Year Ago: Chicken Couscous Salad & Frittata di Zucchine Gialle e Provola

Two Years Ago: Cacio e Pepe della Scala

Three Years Ago: Grilled Sockeye Salmon Fillet & Sautéed Summer Squash

~ by italicious on June 4, 2012.

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