Make Ahead

Bagna Cauda al' la Vecchia

January 17, 2011
Author Notes

Bagna cauda means "warm bath". What better way to spend time with your friends than sharing a warm bath. This appetizer is served hot but not boiling. You can share a communal bath or individual bowls. The idea is to serve up sharp or bitter flavored vegetables to dip in the bath. —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 teaspoon dried herbs such as savory or herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon French mustard (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste
  • For dipping in the hot bath; leaves of radicchio treviso, red or white endive, slices of fennel, baby radishes, baby carrots, pealed and sliced sunchokes and on and on.
In This Recipe
  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 and herbs.
  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.

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Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.