The 23rd, 24th and 25th of November are the Bagna Cauda days and to get ready for this occasion we got the original recipe and pictures from Tipici astigiani (many thanks for that!!).
The Bagna Cauda, meaning hot sauce, originally comes from Asti. It is a city located in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. In this city, in the past it was very common to find the main ingredient to prepare this tasty sauce: the anchovies in salt.
The Bagna Cauda is served in a Fojòt, a traditional glazed terra cotta bowl. It is composed of an upper bowl suited to contain the Bagna Cauda and a lower part where to put a small candle to keep the sauce warm.
This is more than a simple dish, as it is a social ritual where all the guests gather around a dinner table, dipping vegetables into the Bagna Cauda and sipping a good fruity red wine from Piemonte (like a Barbera d’Asti). At the end of the dinner, the etiquette expects to finish with an abundant cup of hot beef broth.
INGREDIENTS for 12 servings:
12 peeled and finely sliced garlic cloves (remove the green sprout)
6 glasses of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
600 g Spanish Red Anchovies in Salt (or whatever type you find)
Assorted fresh vegetables:
Nizza Monferrato hunchback cardoon, Jerusalem artichokes, white cabbage hearts, endive and escarole, peppers, spring onions
Or cooked vegetables like: boiled red beets, boiled potatoes, baked onions, roasted peppers
Put the garlic cloves in a small pot, cover them with some milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Then turn to low heat and let cook for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile take the anchovies off the salt, wash and dry them. Then remove thorns and bones from the anchovies.
Drain the garlic from the milk and put it in an earthenware pot, big enough to contain 6 glasses of oil and the anchovies. Start adding first 1 glass of oil and start cooking it over low heat for a few minutes. Then pour the anchovies and the rest of the oil and let gently cook for about 30 min. Be careful, don’t burn the oil!
Put the earthenware pot on the table, or alternatively, if you have the traditional fojòt pan, pour the boiling-hot sauce into it and serve.
Enjoy dipping the vegetables in bagna cauda.
Just for the sake of curiosity:
Bagna cauda is always paired with cardoon. The Gobbi (hunchbacks) variety is cultivated in southern Asti and harvested in October. The cardoon becomes a hunchback due to the special cultivation technique: it undergoes a bleaching process forcing it to grow in the ground. While trying to reach the light, it swells and bends changing itself. This process also makes it sweet and tender.
All cardoons are usually eaten cooked, except the Gobbo di Nizza Monferrato which is good eaten raw.
Restaurants to taste an excellent Bagna Cauda:
- Osteria “Ai Binari” – Località Mombarone, 145, 14100 Asti
- Ristorante “Cambiocavallo” – Via Gioacchino Testa, 47, 14100 Asti
- Geranio Restaurant – Via Beppe Fenoglio, 4, 10023 Chieri TO