Sunday, January 22, 2006

Bagna Cauda

This traditional, rustic Northern Italian dish from Piedmont is served much like a Swiss fondue with the sauce kept hot over a sterno flame. The vegetables can be cut bite sized and dipped into the sauce with fondue forks or, if you don’t have fondue forks, cut the vegetables into long, thin spears and dip with your hands. I have omitted the traditional red or green bell pepper since I like to use only the wonderful array of seasonal winter vegetables available in Italy. I have included the traditional cardoons, a vegetable in the artichoke family that tastes a bit like artichokes but looks like very large, pale celery with a lot of spiky leaves. See the cooked version in the upper right photo. Cardoons are easy to find in Italy. I have also bought them in Chicago at Caputo’s Market and once, very surprisingly at a Pick n’ Save in Jamestown, Wisconsin! If you can’t find them, don’t worry. This dish lends itself to improvisation, so pick the vegetables you like best. Rather than napkins, use slices of an Italian country round loaf to soak up any dripped sauce from the fondue pot to the plate. Once the bread has soaked enough sauce, eat it; it’s delicious, and start again with another piece. For a full meal this dish can be preceded or followed by an assortment of cheeses and cured meats such as prosciutto and salami and if you’re lucky enough to find them, bresaola and speck. ***Note: The above photos courtesy of Gerald Weisl of Weimax Wines & Spirits in Burlingame, California

Serves 4
SAUCE: 8 cloves garlic
1/3 cup whole milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 anchovy fillets with 1 tsp of their oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

VEGETABLE SUGGESTIONS: raw carrots, raw celery ribs, raw radicchio di treviso, raw fennel bulb, lightly steamed broccoli florets, lightly steamed cauliflower florets, boiled cardoons, boiled potatoes, boiled brussels sprouts, boiled artichokes.

Plenty of warm, crusty, country bread

Place the peeled garlic cloves and the milk in a small food processor and process until you achieve a fine paste. Place this mixture into a small saucepan with the butter, the anchovies and the oil and cook over low heat for minutes until the anchovies have disintegrated. Do not expect this to turn out smooth and creamy like a mayonnaise. You will have a separated sauce consisting in oil on top and sediment on the bottom. Don't worry, that's the way it's supposed to be. Place the sauce in the fondue pot or a flameproof pot held over a sterno flame. Serve with vegetables and bread.


Blogger Hanna said...

Just wanted to let you know that I am using your recipe to make this tonight. My husband and I have been just drooling over this recipe since we heard of it.

Thanks for sharing it!

12:54 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Hanna, Thanks for visiting! I hope your bagna cauda turned out well.

2:45 PM  

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