Bagna cauda

 

Bagna cauda is Piedmontese dialect for ‘hot dip’. It is meant to be eaten in the colder months as a convivial ritual, sharing the dip with your friends as you chat and laugh the day away. According to tradition you are supposed to serve it in its terracotta pot, called dian, kept warm on a special table brazied called s’cionfetta. Both items are very hard to find in stores, however, so most Italians just use a fondue set or the modern terracotta all-in-one pot called fojot. The dip can be used with just about anything, but traditionalists prefer sticking to cardoons, Jerusalem artichokes, bell peppers, bread and sliced boiled potatoes. A word of warning: bagna cauda is notoriously hard to digest due to its high oil and garlic content, so set aside a few hours for slumbering after eating it. You can make it slightly more digestible by pre-cooking the garlic in milk. The remaining dip is traditionally used for frying eggs with.

 

 

Ingredients

 

  • 6 garlic heads, whole
  • 600 g extra-virgin olive oil
  • 300 g salted red anchovies
  • 125 g red wine

 

 

Preparation

 

Carefully peel each garlic clove, split them and remove the inner sprout. Slice the garlic – you’ll need about 95 grams per person. Put the anchovies in a shallow pan, place it in the sink and let cold water gently flow into the pan, washing the salt off the fish. Let the water flow for about three hours, then drain carefully and clean the anchovies. You want to remove both the fishbone and the innards. Wash the insides of the fish under gently flowing water, trying not to flake the anchovies. Dry the fish by patting them between paper towels, place it in a shallow pan and use the wine to wash them. Leave them to marinate a few minutes, then dry them again with paper towels. Place the garlic in a pot with 100 g of olive oil and cook on a very light flame. Stir with a wooden spoon making sure the garlic stays white, and add the anchovies. Keep stirring while you slowly add the remaining oil. The trick now is to let the sauce cook for 30 to 40 minutes without frying, so keep an eye on the flame and stir frequently. While the sauce is cooking, it’s time to prepare the vegetables for dipping. Typical items are: oven-baked onions (unpeeled and quartered), sliced boiled potatoes, roasted beets, roasted bell peppers slices and homemade bread. Cardoons and Jerusalem artichokes are eaten raw, as wild onions are. The latter are traditionally presented in a vase with barbera wine. Complete the sauce preparation by stirring well until it turns into an uniform cream, without any chunk, and serve on a fondue burner to keep it warm throughout the meal.