The Storied Ritual Specialty of Peidmont, Bagna Cauda

1st Dec 2016

Happy Christmas - Holiday season and best wishes for health and prosperity from Terra Allegra.

"Bagna càuda is one of the best examples of “cucina povera,” the humble healthy dishes born of necessity and few ingredients. But bagna cauda is more than a meal; it is a ritual, one that, according to the book on Piedmontese cuisine, “abhors solitude and wants a tavern atmosphere — or better, an ancient cantina lit by fire or candle.” It also requires “a triumph of colors of many vegetables” to eat, and the new season’s wine to drink. Most of all, it requires a convivial atmosphere with friends and family gathered around the pot of simmering sauce as if the setting were a rustic cocktail party."     


There are many, many versions.  This one I've found and tried nearly every Christmas season since 2007 when Terra Allegra Imports LLC was founded.

Bagna Cauda is a specialty of Piedmont region of Italy. It means “warm bath.” The bath, olive oil or butter is warmed with garlic cloves and anchovies until the garlic is softened and the anchovies dissolve. 

Even if you think you won’t like this with anchovies my suggestion is to try it. Anchovies dissolve when cooked and the texture and flavor is eased with the other ingredients. Many people who normally would not eat anchovies find this extremely delicious!!

Raw vegetables of your choice (see below)
2 cups heavy cream
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup butter or extra-virgin olive oil (or a combination of both)
10 finely chopped flat anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (1 pound) loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut into 2-inch sections

Wash and prepare the vegetables several hours before using them. Cut vegetable into strips about 3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Place all the vegetables in ice water to crisp. NOTE: Remember, this is a dip for vegetables freshly picked at the peak. Use only the youngest, sweetest variety of them as possible, and before serving pat all the vegetables dry with a towel.
In a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, add cream and garlic; bring just to a boil, lower heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly, approximately 15 minutes or until the cream has thickened and reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool.
In another saucepan, melt the butter (or add olive oil). Mash anchovies with a fork and add to butter, along with parsley and cayenne; cook until the anchovies dissolves into a paste, about 5 minutes.
When cream has cooled, mash the garlic with a fork. Force the cream and garlic through a sieve into the butter mixture. Heat the sauce, stirring, but do not let it boil.
Serve in warming dish over candle (a fondue pot works well). If sauce begins to separate while standing, a few turns with a whisk will bring it back together. Sauce may be made ahead and kept refrigerated in covered jar. To re-warm, place jar in cold water in a pan and gently raise the heat until mixture is liquid again.
Dip vegetables into the bagna cauda (a fondue-style fork will help), holding a piece of bread under the vegetable after dipping. After dipping a few pieces, the bread will be fragrant with oil and delicious to eat.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Serve with crusty Italian bread, raw cabbage wedges, raw red peppers,
endive, bread sticks, try other raw vegetables too such as, Artichokes, Cardoons, Carrot sticks, Cauliflower florets, Celery sticks, Cherry tomatoes, Cucumber, peeled, Fennel bulb, Radishes, Scallions (green onions), Small whole mushrooms, Zucchini


Tagged as: authentic italian, bagna cauda, bagnacauda, clay cooking, clay pots, how to use, Recipes, terracotta cookware