Bagna Caoda

Pronunciation: bahn-ya cow-da

A classic Piedmontese dish, Bagna caoda is a kind of vegetable fondue which, when literally translated, means “hot sauce.”

Prepare a vegetable platter of crisp raw or quickly blanched vegetables and crusty bread and invite your guests to dip them in the hot sauce. Celery, carrot and fennel sticks, green onions, green beans and bell pepper strips work great because their length and texture make them easy for dipping.

But you can be creative and use artichoke hearts, broccoli, cauliflower and any other vegetables you like. Crusty bread chunks also work well with this dip.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ lb. anchovy fillets

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and sauté the garlic for 3-4 minutes over medium-low heat. Pour in the olive oil and then stir in the anchovies, until a creamy consistency is obtained. The mixture may develop a foamy texture while cooking. This is normal and will disappear as the sauce continues cooking. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often.

The sauce will appear mostly clear, with the anchovies dissolving into tiny little pieces at the bottom. Pour the mixture into a fondue pot or terra cotta bowl placed over a spirit burner to keep hot while serving.

Tony’s Tip: To temper the garlic, you can remove the hearts from the garlic cloves or marinate the garlic in milk for a few hours before use.

Tony’s Tip: Use unsalted butter for all your baking and cooking needs. By using unsalted butter, you are in control of how much salt your dish contains. In this dish, for example, the anchovies will provide enough salt, and thus using a salted butter would only make it saltier.

2 Responses

  1. Robyn Wimmer

    When I was growing up in Northern California, every New Year’s Day we walked across the street to my aunt’s house for Bagna Caoda served with fresh veggies, bread and my uncle’s homemade vino. Oh, the joy of being an Italian! My uncle was from the Piedmont and although my mom and her sister grew up in Vicenza Province, Aunt Mary learned to cook his favorite foods; traditionally, we only had it on New Year’s Day. So much so, that as a young woman who had moved to Fargo, when I asked my widowed aunt to make Bagna Caoda so my husband could experience it, she was taken aback. After all, it was March! Fortunately, she made it, he liked it and I’ve since introduced it to our sons and friends.

    1. Sarah Nasello

      Robyn, thank you for sharing your memories with us – food is such a wonderful connector – to people, places, times, events. How fun to learn that you now make bagna caoda for your family and friends. We have often found that people can be a bit reluctant to taste this dip at first, mainly due to the anchovies, but once we coax them into trying it, they are so surprised by the wonderful savory-ness of flavors, and seem to forget their aversion to these little fish. There is much joy in being Italian, or in my case, part of an Italian household.

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