This is a traditional autumn recipe from Piedmonte. As this recipe is a celebratory fall dish, it usually features typical seasonal vegetables. Purists will say to only serve this with peppers (raw or grilled, then cut into strips) or raw sticks of cardoons (artichoke thistles, which are a specialty of the area of Nizza Monferrato in the province of Asti). But you'll often see boiled potatoes (if there's anything that's meant to be paired together forever, it's anchovies and potatoes), onions (roasted whole, in their skins, then cut into wedges), raw cabbage leaves, cauliflower, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, or celery sticks, to give a few more ideas.
To keep it warm during the meal, *bagna cauda* (which literally means "hot sauce") is usually served in a terra cotta bowl built over a candle or a flame (known as a *fujot* in dialect). You can also serve it as a flavorful sauce with roast meat or dolloped onto squares of fried polenta. My personal favorite use for it is stirred through some softly scrambled eggs or even tossed through pasta. —Emiko
Peel the garlic cloves, then mince 4 to 5 of them and finely slice the rest.
Place all the garlic, the olive oil, and anchovies in a small saucepan and place over VERY LOW HEAT. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but do not let the garlic brown or fry (a barely-there sizzle is fine). Keep your eye on it and stir occasionally to check that there's no danger of browning the garlic.
Just before removing from heat, stir through the butter. Serve hot with raw or cooked vegetables cut into sticks or wedges for dipping (see note for ideas). If not using right away, keep in the refrigerator for a few days maximum.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.