Bagna Cauda al' la Vecchia

By • January 17, 2011 3 Comments

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Author Notes: In Italy they still play football using their feet, unlike the US where it should be called “helmet ball”. So on Super Bowl Sunday I’ll be watching Italian football and instead of guacamole and Doritos I’ll be snacking on bagna cauda. “Bagna cauda” means “hot bath” and “la vecchia” means “the old lady”. The two come together in this way, bagna cauda is a dish from the Piemonte region of Italy. Juventus, the most popular soccer team in Italy, known as la vecchia signora, is based in Torino and financed by Fiat. For some reason the team are more popular in the south than they are in their home city. I guess it’s too cold to sit on a concrete bench with the Alps at your back. Anyway, my team is AS Roma but there you go. If you are going to dip, do it the right way. Endive leaves are great, and so are leaves of radicchio Treviso because of their shape. Other items can be served on skewers. A fondue pot works for this if set over sterno but if you don’t have one you can jury-rig your own set up in kind of a bain marie formation, earthenware vessel being preferred. Remember it means hot bath. So keep it warm and pay attention to the quality of your anchovies because it matters. This would be served at the table, and unlike the Super Bowl the Coppa Italia doesn’t take six hours to play.pierino

Serves 4-6

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 flat anchovy fillets (the best you can find)*, chopped
  • 1 tbs mustard (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Bagna cauda delivery vehicles (in addition to endive and Treviso leaves); carrots peeled and sliced lengthwise on the bias, white asparagus, radishes (I love French breakfast radishes with this), peeled sunchokes, and finally cardoons are very traditional
  1. Arrange your mise en place for the bagna cauda. Set out your delivery vehicles on small plates on the serving table. Make sure they are clean and fresh as they serve up almost raw.
  2. Combine the oil and butter in the serving vessel and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile if you are using the bain marie method heat water in a large enough pan to hold the one you are serving from. Don’t burn the butter!
  3. Add the garlic and shallot for just a minute or so. Don’t burn these either. Stir in the anchovies.
  4. If using, stir in the mustard. This is very untraditional but whisked in, it will help to hold the emulsion together a bit longer
  5. Salt to taste
  6. Set your serving pot into the bain marie or over the sterno flame and let your guests tuck in with their preferred vegetable pieces
  7. *For the anchovies I prefer the ones packed upright in glass jars. I almost always use Ortiz from Spain. Avoid the little tins of oil packed anchovies from Morocco. Think you hate anchovies? That’s why you hate anchovies. They are the ones that appear in your worst pizza nightmare, or just as bad, on a caesar salad.

More Great Recipes: Snacks|Fish & Seafood|Appetizers|Asparagus

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