Bagna cauda

Bagna caoda fished dish

Bagna caoda fished dish

Piedmont-flagBagna ca√īda.From¬†Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one ūüôā 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

Bagna caoda ingredients

Bagna caoda ingredients

  • 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))
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower (raw or cooked)
  • Endive
  • Celery
  • Courgettes
  • Small globe artichoke
  • Cardoons
  • Cucumber
  • Radicchio
  • Asparagus
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Small whole mushrooms
Bagna caoda vegetables

Bagna caoda vegetables

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.

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Grissini – Authentic recipe

Grissini finished dish

Grissini finished dish

Piedmont-flagFrom Piemonte. In my experience the bread you can buy from a good baker is usually a superior product to home-made, unless you have a  great deal of time to invest and a very good oven. Here in Italy very few people make bread at home. Focaccia and other bread like products are another thing though. It is quite easy to make grissini, or breadsticks,  at home and they will usually be much better than the shop bought variety, especially outside of Italy. The original recipe is from a baker, so has been scaled down drastically, by a factor of about 10. The quantities and proving time are not extremely sensitive, so you have a bit of leeway.

Grissini ingredients

Grissini ingredients

  • 500g 00 flour or similar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp malt (or sugar)
  • 1 cube of fresh yeast or the equilvalent amount of dried
  • 1 tsp of lard (replace with oil if you want a vegetarian version)
  • Up to 300ml of tepid water
  • A little semolina for dusting
Grissini mixing the dough

Grissini mixing the dough

Mix together the flour, salt, malt, yeast and lard. Add water, little by little, until you get a soft pliable dough. Make sure you knead it well.

Grissini kneading the dough

Grissini kneading the dough

Form into a rectangle about 15cm long by 3cm deep. Cover with a clean towel and leave to prove for about 2 hours.

Grissini proving the dough

Grissini proving the dough

Cut the dough into 2cm strips and stretch to make the grissini shapes. I prefer them quite chunky, but remember that they will about double in size in the oven.

Grissini cutting strips

Grissini cutting strips

¬†Bake them at 200¬įC until golden brown (about 18-20 minutes).

Grissini ready for the oven

Grissini ready for the oven