Bagna Càuda with Piedmontese Garnishes

Ingredients

  • 15  large cloves garlic, quartered
  • 2/3 Cups  milk
  • 1/3 Cup  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons  chardonnay vinegar
  • long red chile, halved, seeded, and sliced thinly
  • 1 Teaspoon  white sugar
  • 10  anchovy fillets
  •   Fine sea salt, to taste
  •   Piedmontese garnishes*

Recently while in Piedmont in Italy I had this most beautiful dip called bagna càuda with raw and roasted vegetables as garnishes as a snack. Bagna càuda is a garlic and anchovy sauce, which not only works superbly with chicken and any game birds but is also lovely smeared on bread with some lettuce and slices of hot beef.

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Directions

Place the garlic and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the garlic has softened, for 10-15 minutes. Strain, discarding the milk. Give the garlic a rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

Wash out the pan and return the garlic to it. Add the olive oil and cook over low heat until the garlic starts to turn light brown but make sure it does not catch on the base of the pan, for 40-50 minutes.

Now add the vinegar, chile, and sugar, and cook until the chile softens, for 10-15 minutes. Add the anchovies and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and, using a fork, mash all of the ingredients together until mushy. Taste to see if it needs some salt and maybe a little more vinegar. Serve warm with your desired garnishes.

Notes

*Note: The classic garnishes of the old Piedmontese days are cooked cardoon stalk and raw red pepper, but I like to use a selection of the following:

  • Fine sea salt
  • Thinly sliced raw sunchokes
  • Halved raw radishes
  • Romaine lettuce leaves and hearts
  • Radicchio leaves
  • Red belgian endive leaves
  • Raw baby turnips
  • Cabbage leaves
  • Baby carrots
  • Roasted peppers
  • Roasted beets
  • Celery sticks
  • Crusty fresh bread

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