Laurie’s Bagna Càuda (Μπάνια Καούντα)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
Though the recipe contains a lot of garlic and anchovies, their pungency disappears after simmering in hot oil. For a group, serve Bagna Càuda in a fondue dish or other pot which keeps the sauce hot. For quick weekday meals, serve the sauce in individual unheated dishes for dipping, or even just spooned, straight from the stove, over the vegetables.
1/4 cup chopped anchovy fillets (2 ounces/24 cleaned fillets) (see Note below)
1/3 cup chopped fresh garlic
1 1/4 cups olive oil
Selection of Vegetables: Raw or roasted red peppers, raw or lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower, celery, carrots, zucchini, cardoons, radishes, green onions, radicchio, fennel, cherry tomatoes, boiled potatoes
Selection of Bread: artisan-style bread, foccacia, breadsticks
Put the anchovy fillets, garlic, and olive oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the oil starts to bubble. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until the anchovies melt into the oil and the garlic is very soft. Don’t let the garlic brown; if the oil is cooking hard enough to brown the garlic, immediately turn down the heat.
While the sauce is cooking, cut the vegetables and bread into shapes appropriate for dipping. When the sauce is done, dip the cold vegetables in the hot sauce.
NOTE: Anchovies preserved in salt have much more flavor than anchovies canned in olive oil. In dishes like Bagna Càuda, where anchovies are a central ingredient, I prefer the salt-cured variety (the dish is delicious even when made with oil-canned anchovies). Some places, you can buy salted anchovies by the ounce from the deli counter; in Alaska, this isn’t possible. Instead, I buy large cans of salt-preserved anchovies in Greece or when I travel outside the state (Big John’s PFI in Seattle carries them, as does Amazon.com). Anchovies packed in salt keep in the refrigerator for up to a year. To clean salt-cured anchovies, carefully rinse off all the salt. Starting from the head end, peel each fillet off the backbone, and then remove as many of the fine bones from the fillet as possible. Dry the cleaned fillets on paper towels before using in recipes.