I'm continuing with my journey through Piemontese cuisine and this time I'm making one of the most classic dishes - Bagna Càuda (or Bagna Caôda) - an amazingly delicious and addictive dip. It's served warm with raw vegetables, most notably cardoons or draped over oven roasted capsicums. This weekend also coincided with Bagna Càuda Day so it seems an appropriate time.
Now I know for some people the combination of garlic and anchovy wouldn't be high on their must have list but this is a perfect example where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.
There are only four ingredients to this dish - garlic, anchovies, milk and olive oil - and while it isn't a difficult recipe, you must use salted anchovies - don't try it with anchovies under oil.
You'll need to rid these anchovies of their excess salt - use the back of a knife to scrap off the salt and then give them a light rinse under cold water.
The most time consuming part will be peeling the garlic. As a rule of thumb, you'll need to use one head of garlic to every 3 salted anchovies and this should result in enough bagna cauda for 1 person.
1 head garlic
3 salted anchovies
In this first part, the garlic can be soaked overnight if desired.
Break the garlic into cloves - peel each clove and place in a small saucepan (or bowl if soaking overnight) - pour in enough milk to generously cover the cloves.
Place the pan over a low heat and simmer until the garlic is soft and the milk has just about all been evaporated. Remove the cloves and squash them with a fork to form a paste - it doesn't have to be completely smooth, a bit of texture is good.
Take the cleaned anchovies and using a fork, squash them as you did the garlic.
Place the garlic and anchovies into a clean pan - stir through enough oil to slacken the mix so that it reaches a dipping consistency. Place over a low heat and stir to warm through until lightly bubbling.
If you have one of these terracotta bagna càuda dishes (fojòt) like I have in the photo above, you can do this last part in the dish itself.