Bagna càuda, pronounced BON-ya COW-da, is a riff on crudités with dip. The name means “hot bath”; the dip is olive oil and butter, seasoned with garlic and anchovies and served hot. Bagna caôda is an alternative spelling.
A dish from Italy’s Piedmont season, bagna càuda is served during the autumn and winter months, often as part of a Christmas Eve buffet. Why not try it on New Year’s Eve?
Traditional dippers in Piedmont include artichokes, bell peppers, cardoons*, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel and green onions.
In some parts of Piedmont, cream is used instead of butter; and hazelnut or walnut oil is substituted for the olive oil. If you’re in Alba, lucky you: There may be some truffles added to to the oil.
Here’s the drill:
Heat the seasoned oil.
Provide slices of baguette to hold underneath the vegetable to catch the drippings and turn into its own snack.
To keep the oil warm, you can use a fondue pot with fondue forks for dipping. A flat cheese fondue pot works best, or a chafing dish on a hot plate or a brazier.
This bagna càuda is served in a regular dish, not a fondue pot. Photo courtesy FineDiningLovers.com; here’s their recipe.
RECIPE: BAGNA CÀUDA DIP
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup olive oil plus oil for browning
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6-12 best quality anchovy fillets, well drained
1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves
Optional: pinch of chile flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Assorted fresh vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces
1 baguette or similar loaf, sliced into 2-inch pieces
1. BROWN the garlic cloves in some olive oil, about 5 minutes. Add the optional chile flakes before removing from the flame.
2. BLEND the oil, butter, anchovies and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the dip to a medium saucepan, taste and season as desired.
3. HEAT over a low flame for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add to fondue pot or dish. Stir in the parsley right before serving.
4. SERVE with crudités and bread.
*Cardoons are relative of artichokes, and aren’t readily available in the U.S. they resemble celery.