Updated: Apr 19, 2021
I finally made bagna cauda after six months living in Piemonte! Something that I knew I’d love from the moment I heard it was riddled with garlic, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Piemontese delicacy and once I finally did, there was no going back!
Bagna cauda is a dish best served in the company of close friends as it can be a particularly pungent one! With anchovies and garlic being the main components of this dipping sauce, it’s probably not the smartest thing to order on a first date...unless you are like me and give zero thought about it!
Though I’m a little ashamed to admit it, the first time I actually tasted bagna cauda I was on a first date. In my defence, however, it was the first time I had been able to set foot in an actual restaurant post-lockdown and I was dying to give it a try. Plus our cameriere made it sound so delish, served on top of a savoury panna cotta with roasted beet chips...my date also had a bite, so I guess all was forgiven?
Anyways, this dish is typically served with crudités, and is especially unique to the region of Piedmont. Part of the traditional fare since the 16th century, sometimes hazelnut or walnut oil or even truffle shavings are added to the recipe to give it an extra oomph and take advantage of all the amazing ingredients found in the area.
A dish that tends to divide people, it’s definitely something that everyone who visits Piemonte needs to try. It’s great especially when the weather dips, but it’s great even to enjoy during a springtime aperitivo! I actually paired this bagna cauda with fresh radishes and a glass of nigori saké from the French brand, Wakaze. A refreshingly bright saké, it provided the perfect level of acidity to balance the richness of the dish!
And don’t worry, if you fall madly in love with this garlic and anchovy marvel, there’s a Bagna Cauda Day on November 1 for you to celebrate and indulge your cravings! And if that weren’t enough, then there’s a festival for the famous dish that happens every year in Asti!
In fact, in 2005 the Asti Delegation of the Italian Academy of Cuisine even registered an official recipe with the Costigliole d'Asti. Serving 12, the tried and true bagna càuda calls for: 12 heads of garlic, 6 wine glasses of extra virgin olive oil and 1 glass of walnut oil, along with 6 ounces of red Spanish anchovies. While my recipe differs slightly, the main garlicky essence remains the same!
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* Makes 1 small bowl perfect for aperitivo *
4 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoon butter
5 cloves garlic, halved
8 anchovy filets
Splash of lemon
Cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons milk
2 bunches of radishes
Drizzle olive oil in a pan with butter over low heat.
Toss in garlic and let simmer until fragrant, about twenty minutes, making sure not to let it burn.
In a food processor, add the garlic butter mixture, anchovy filets, lemon juice, pepper and milk. Pulse for 30 seconds until smooth.
Pour into a small bowl and serve with radishes and focaccia.