Bagna caôda.From Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one 🙂 This dish is well known outside of Italy, but as is often the case it often is very different from the original. It is basically a warm anchovy and garlic dip for raw vegetables. These are two of my favourite things, so it’s one of my favourite antipasti. A lot of versions include milk or cream, but these are not found in the original Piemonte version
- About 6 anchovy fillets per person. Salted are best, but tinned in oil will do. Soak them in a little white wine.
- Garlic (from 2 or 3 cloves per person up to a whole head)
- Olive oil, the best you can find, about 1/2 a wine glass per person. Only olive oil will do.
- About 20 g of unsalted butter per person.
- 1 egg per person(optional)
To serve, dip vegetables into the mixture. The recipe I have is very prescriptive and says you can only use vegetables that are in season and grow in Piedmont. I think this is going a bit far though. Some suggestions on what to serve with the Bagna Cauda (raw unless otherwise stated):-
- Fresh bread
- potatoes cooked in their skins and then peeled
- Peppers roasted and peeled or raw
- Onions boiled or baked
- Sliced apples
- Savoy cabbage
- Jerusalem artichokes (raw or cooked))
- Cauliflower (raw or cooked)
- Small globe artichoke
- Carrot sticks
- Cherry tomatoes
- Spring onions
- Small whole mushrooms
Slice the garlic very thinly and soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Some recipes call for it to be boiled in milk, but I think this is unnecessary.
Add all the ingredients to an earthenware pot along with a small ladle of oil and cook very slowly for about half an hour. Don’t let the garlic brown. Stir it constantly with a wooden spoon. When the anchovies and garlic have dissolved into the sauce, add the rest of the oil.
Bring the pot to the table and keep it warm with some kind heat source. You can buy special pots for this purpose, but fondue sets work well. Serve it with your selection of vegetables.
When you have had your fill of vegetables you can add a beaten egg to what’s left in the pot.