Make Ahead

Semi-Traditional Bagna Cauda

February 15, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Makes about 1 cup
Author Notes

This recipe is based on one from my husband's grandmother, Angelina. She was a great cook: she ran a restaurant in Greenwich Village, NY during the hipster-beatnik days. After selling the restaurant, she lived a full life with my husband's family until she died at the ripe old age of 99. Bagna cauda ("hot bath") is a dish for which there are as many recipes as there are cooks. This is my interpretation of her recipe (more butter, more garlic, more heat). Note: for a delicious variation use all butter, not olive oil, saute the remaining ingredients until softened and then smoosh into soft butter. Use the butter on a grilled beef or lamb or steaky fish like tuna of swordfish. —Savorykitchen

What You'll Need
  • Bagna Cauda
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 can anchovies or 6 salt-packed anchovies (see below)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • lots ground pepper
  • Pinch hot pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • raw and steamed vegetables for dipping
  • Hydrating salt-packed anchovies
  • salt-packed anchovies
  1. Bagna Cauda
  2. Warm olive oil and butter in saucepan. Add the garlic and anchovies. The pan will start to seethe and bubble as the ingredients warm through. Occasionally, use a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies.
  3. When the garlic is softened and the anchovies are broken up add the parsley, the juice of 1/2 of the lemon, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  4. Taste the bagna cauda. Add more salt or lemon juice to taste. You might not need much salt, as the anchovies are pretty salty on their own.
  5. Keep the bagna cauda warm and use it as a dip for vegetables. Raw: carrots, cardoons, celery, cherry tomatoes, scallions, celery root, Belgian endive, etc.. Steamed: cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  1. Hydrating salt-packed anchovies
  2. If you can get them, salt-packed anchovies are just wonderful - full of flavor, fat and meaty. You can get them in specialty markets. Try to find one that does a good business; they're more likely to offer anchovies out of a big can, otherwise, you'll have to buy a tin for yourself. Any extra anchovies can be stored, covered with salt, in the fridge.
  3. To hydrate the anchovies cover them with water, changing it every 15 minutes or so. After 3-4 changes, the anchovies will the soft and plump. Using your fingers or a butter knife, split the fillets off the spine (this is easier than it sounds). Scrape off any ooky, slimy bits.
  4. If the fillets don't want to separate, your fish needs a little more soaking - let it go in for one more soaking.
  5. When you're done, you'll have two fillets and a backbone. I toss the backbones as they're a little too spiky for my taste.
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See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Savorykitchen
  • mrslarkin
  • Midge
  • Sadassa_Ulna

5 Reviews

Savorykitchen February 18, 2011
Thanks again. I look forward to hearing about your anchovy exploits!
mrslarkin February 15, 2011
Oh my, I would be tempted to dip EVERYTHING in this. Kind of ashamed to admit this Italian girl has never tried Bagna Cauda. I must rectify that immediately. :)
Savorykitchen February 15, 2011
Thanks ladies! Noney (Angelina's official grandmother appellation) was just a great lady. I love to honor her memory by cooking. @Sadassa_Ulna - give the salt-packed ones a try, they're really delicious. @Midge - thanks, it's pretty great. Wait til summer and serve it alongside some sliced tomatoes. Nomnom
Midge February 15, 2011
Sounds super tasty and your variation over grilled lamb, oh wow.
Sadassa_Ulna February 15, 2011
I love the background story of Angelina and her restaurant, would love to hear more! This sounds really good, thanks for the tutorial on salt-packed anchovies. Sometimes I like anchovies and sometimes I hate them, so I look forward to trying the re-hydrated, salt-packed type.