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Monday, April 4, 2016

Bagna Cauda

Where to start? Bagna Cauda is neither an African country, a weight-loss supplement flogged by Dr. Oz, faux-leather luggage, or an academic degree with distinction (She graduated Bagna Cauda …). 

What Bagna Cauda is, is a warm dip enlivened with olive oil, butter, garlic, and anchovies. Lucky me! I just happened to have all those ingredients on hand when I decided to make it. Puritans prepare it as a dipper for fresh vegetables but you can forget that nonsense (the exception being cooked asparagus; dunking it into this dip would obviously be gorgeous).

This calorific but outstanding dish came highly recommended by our dear friend Darryl Paulsen (see yesterday’s post). Nibble the slice of baguette you soak in this. Secretly wolfing it down as you hunch over the kitchen sink will not make it any less fattening.

This recipe is so delicious that I’ve published a larger version for the guests you’ll invite to share it, as well as publishing a recipe for two. The proportions are loose, so add and subtract what feels right for you. You may notice that the quantities for 2 aren’t proportional to the quantities for 6. Doesn’t matter. I don’t think you can go wrong with this easy recipe, whatever you do.

Bagna Cauda for 6:

Two 1.7-oz. (50 g) can flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil (drained; oil reserved)
3/4 c. (180 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c. (80 mL) butter (no substitutes)
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
One fresh Italian baguette, in 1-in. slices

Add drained olive oil from anchovy fillets to measuring cup. Top with extra-virgin olive oil to make 3/4 c.  (180 mL).Whirl all ingredients in mini-prep or blender until garlic is completely crushed, anchovies are well incorporated, and mixture is almost smooth. Transfer dip to medium saucepan over medium-low heat, keeping warm until needed. Pour into small individual fondue pots over low flame at the table. A cast-iron skillet over a Japanese cooker at the center of the table works well for communal serving. Serves 6-to-8. 

Note: For a close-up look and explanation of Japanese cookers, see:  


Bagna Cauda for 2:

One 1.7-oz. (50 g) can flat fillets of anchovies in olive oil (drained; oil reserved)
1/2 c. (250 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. (15 mL) butter (no substitutes)
1-1/2 large garlic cloves, peeled
Four 1-in.-thick slices fresh Italian baguette (two per person)

Add drained olive oil from anchovy fillets to measuring cup.

Anchovies in olive oil.


Youll need some garlic, too!

Top with extra-virgin olive oil to make 1/2 c. (125 mL).Whirl all ingredients in mini-prep or blender until garlic is completely crushed, anchovies are well incorporated, and mixture is almost smooth. 


My mini-prep ... a small food processor.

Transfer dip to small saucepan over low heat, keeping warm until needed. Pour into small individual fondue pots over low flame at the table. Or do what we did (see Down Home Note). Soak torn portions of bread slices in hot dip. Serves 2.


Bagna Cauda was invented in Italy: This is how the Italians do it! 

Down Home Note: Ron and I are “just folks” who don’t normally go to a lot of fuss. And so it was that I looked at the finished Bagna Cauda and thought: “Why dirty a fondue dish? The saucepan it’s already in will be just fine!” As it was. The dip stayed hot as we passed the hot saucepan back and forth. We gobbled it all up - or most of it, at least. I’ll toss the small amount that remains with a little spaghetti for tomorrow’s lunch.  

Further Note: Because I served Bagna Cauda as part of a complete dinner, I accompanied it with a small platter of Assorted Antipasti:


Our Antipasti included a few slices of softened Brie; some thinly sliced salami, prosciutto, and deli chicken; a few mixed olives and gherkins; a scattering of small tomatoes; and some cooked, chilled edamame beans I bought in the deli section of the grocery store. 


We ate much of this - but not all!

By the end of the meal, this was all about the late Darryl Paulsen, friend extraordinaire. We toasted him ...

Clink!

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