In Piedmont, eating bagna cauda (sometimes caôda) is a fall and winter ritual, commonly accompanied with a fresh, young Barbera wine. The name means "hot bath," and the dish is so-called because the mixture of garlic and anchovies is traditionally kept warm in a chafing dish or fondue pot. Bagna cauda is served with small pieces of assorted vegetables for dipping and crusty bread to catch the drips. Among the possible vegetables are raw Jerusalem artichokes, cardoons, bell peppers, carrots, spinach, green onions or celery; cooked potatoes; roasted onions or beets; and blanched cauliflower or broccoli. Some cooks prefer to simmer the garlic first in a little milk to tame the flavor. The cloves are then mashed to a paste and mixed with the anchovies, olive oil and butter.
3/4 cup olive oil
8 to 10 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
12 anchovy fillets
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
About 8 cups trimmed, cut-up vegetables (see note above)
Slices of coarse country bread for serving
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Cook, mashing the anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon, until smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Pour the mixture into a warmed chafing dish or fondue pot set over a warming candle or spirit lamp. Serve immediately with vegetables for dipping. Pass the bread slices at the table. Serves 6 to 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).