Also spelled bagna caoda (BAHN-yah COW-dah), this “bath hot” is a simple country dish that gathers the bestest of friends when the first nip of autumn hits the air. I’ve been to one such party in Piemonte years ago and it lasted more than 4 hours, stretching well beyond midnight in a daze of drunken garlic breath and laughter. We have never been able to organize a party at ours because we just don’t know of anyone in town who loves garlic and anchovies as much as we do.
Bagna cauda for two
Some cooks will suggest soaking the garlic in milk in order to take away some of the bite but I prefer to skip this step and tackle bagna cauda head on. The most important thing is to cook the sauce on VERY low heat, even if this means standing at the stove and moving your pot on and off the fire to prevent the garlic from browning. Brown garlic = bitter. Not good. For a party of 2 you will need:
• 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
• 1/4 cup butter
• 4-6 anchovy fillets (I use the ones in oil), chopped
• 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• assorted cooked vegetables: topinambur, cardoon, cauliflower, beets, grilled onions
• assorted fresh vegs/fruits: endive, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, bell peppers, pears
Instructions: Gently melt butter and add the garlic slices, cooking on a very low flame until softened. Add the anchovies and olive oil. Continue to cook gently until the anchovies fall apart. Remove from heat. If you prefer a smooth sauce, process briefly with a handheld blender. To serve, pour sauce into individual fojòt like the ones below, or keep warm in a fondue-style dish in the center of the table. Pile up the vegetable platters and pour the wine.