Bagna Càuda – Piedmont Anchovy Dip

Bagna càuda, a dish from Piedmont, Italy, is made of garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter, with numerous local variations.. The dish is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue.

In the past walnut or hazelnut oil would have been used. Sometimes, truffles are used in versions around Alba. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoon, carrot, peppers, fennel, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, and onions. It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months, particularly at Christmas and New Year’s, and must be served hot, as the name suggests.

Bagna cauda is also a popular winter dish in central Argentina, an area of predominantly Northern Italian descent.

If you’re not a fan of this salty little fish, now’s the time to try it, because there are few other dishes that give it such an elaborate dressing-up and there’s no better way to eat raw seasonal vegetables.

Bagna Càuda - Piedmont Anchovy Dip
Recipe type: Condiments
  • 16 cloves garlic, peeled
  • milk, as required, to cover
  • 30 small anchovy fillets
  • 300 g unsalted butter
  • 200 ml olive oil (extra virgin, if possible)
  • 100 ml cream
  • fresh or toasted slices of ciabatta (optional)
For the crudites
  • 1 yellow capsicum
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 1 fennel bulb, fronds reserved for garnish
  • ½ medium-sized cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 6 celery stalks
  • 8 radishes
  • 3 small carrots
For the Bagna Càuda dip
  1. Place the garlic in a small saucepan and cover with just enough milk. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the garlic is completely soft. Remove from the heat and crush the garlic into the milk with a fork.
  2. Add the anchovies and return to a low heat, stirring until they are dissolved, then blitz with a blender or stick blender until smooth.
  3. Add the butter and olive oil and stir until combined, then stir in the cream.
To prepare the crudités
  1. Cut all the vegetables into irregular shapes which will be useful for scooping. (See Note 1.)
To serve
  1. Portion the bagna cauda into individual pots or in a single larger fondue dish at the centre of the table with a candle underneath to keep it warm. The vegetables can also be portioned out or scattered beautifully onto a communal platter.
1. Fennel will oxidise quickly so cut at the last minute and use a sharp knife.

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