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Bagna Cauda

Bagna Cauda...Piedmont Style

I remember my dad used to dread the times we’d have this while we were growing up.  I think he got so burned out on all things garlic as a child, that he just didn’t care to be around it as an adult.  I don’t actually remember Grandpa making this dish but I certainly remember having it regularly.  It’s been a part of many of our Martino dinners as well.  And although I thought we had brought something new to this dish, dipping mushrooms in addition to the traditional vegetables, turns out that the bagna cauda recipe in The Roanoke Centennial Cookbook suggests mushrooms as a dip as well.  It was just something we’d never tried.  In any case, this is one dish that tastes exactly like it did when I was a kid and although you can’t be around people for several days after eating bagna cauda, it’s one of my favorite appetizers at our dinners.

First Taste

The Dip

1 head of garlic (that’s correct, a whole head, not just a clove)
6-8 anchovies, drained & chopped
1 stick butter
1 pint vegetable oil

Sauté the garlic in the butter in a fondue pot until lightly browned (don’t allow to burn).  Add oil and anchovies and heat on high til anchovies are dissolved…the longer the better.

The Dipped

Mushrooms (we use button, baby Portobello and Shiitake)
Bell peppers

Sauté the mushrooms in butter til tender.  Cut the celery into 1-2 inch long pieces.  Cut the peppers into 1-2 inch long, ½ inch wide slices.  Cut the lettuce into 1-2 inch square pieces.  After the anchovies have dissolved, using a slice of Italian bread as a plate, dip the vegetables and mushrooms into mixture and enjoy.  Serve with lots of red wine.  Soooo good!


Oh, if you’re trying to get someone to try bagna cauda for the first time, like my good friend Charly in the photo to the right, you may want to refrain from telling them that the black scum at the bottom of the fondue pot which comes up with their celery is actually the dissolved anchovies.  Your call of course, just a suggestion.

Also, this bagna cauda recipe is apparently a Piedmont region version of this popular Italian fondue.  Most recipes you'll find will include cream which significantly changes the texture and taste of this dish.  Carol grew up with a cream version which she really liked as well.  At any rate, we hope you try this version and that you enjoy it as much as we do.

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