Thursday, January 29, 2009

Anchovies and Bagna Cauda

Anchovies. It’s a food that can bring thoughts of revulsion to many, along with memories of bad pizza experiences and those smelly, brown, tinned things that bear no resemblance to actual fish. And yes – anchovies are actual fish. A fact that is, surprisingly, news to some. But served fresh or preserved properly, they are somewhat sweet and quite good in many applications.

I picked up a pack of white anchovies from Spain for my pressed baguette sandwich. They were not cheap and therefore I wanted to be sure to find a good use for the remaining filets.

Enter Bagna Cauda. It’s an Italian dip that is traditionally served with fresh vegetables. I added a loaf of homemade bread and sautéed shrimp to my Bagna Cauda platter and a light lunch was served. Interestingly, I found that the veggies were not a very good pairing for the dip. However, the homemade bread and shrimp were fantastic. Aside from anchovies, the dip is made up of butter, olive oil and garlic – always a delicious sauce for bread and shrimp.

I saved my leftover Bagna Cauda to toss with pasta. All it needed was a light sprinkling of parmesan and I had a great dish. Two dishes for the price (and effort) of one. Love that!

Bagna Cauda
Makes about 1 cup

1/2 cup good quality olive oil
4 – 6 cloves garlic
12 white anchovy filets
1 oz butter (1/4 of a stick)

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat and add the anchovy filets. Stir occasionally until the anchovies begin to dissolve in the oil. While you’re waiting for the filets to dissolve, use a microplane to grate the garlic cloves into the sauce. Let everything simmer together for 8 – 10 minutes and then finish by stirring in the butter. This sauce needs to stay hot so serve it in a butter warmer or other dish that has a heat source. Serve with what you like, but I recommend the shrimp and fresh bread.


Laura said...

I have been trying to get into anchovies...I feel sort of provincial hating them. I have yet to land on a really good anchovy but I'm willing to keep trying...if only to make this dip one day.

Anonymous said...

Bagna cauda is DIVINE! I've only done a version from anchovy paste thus far. Looking forward to buying true anchovy soon and setting to work on this.


Dewi said...

Gosh, I couldn't even describe how much I love Bagna Cauda. Sometime I serve this with vegetable crudite, unfortunately not too many people know how to appreciate this delicious sauce/dip.
Yours look so mouth watering!

Kirstin said...

I like bagna cauda, but most times I just end up dipping bread in the mix and use up all the oil in about 5 minutes, leaving no dipping sauce for the veggies. But oh my do I love cardoons dipped in the anchovy sauce. Love this with a muscadet or mineral Italian white.

Heather said...

i just have never been able to get into anchovies. i've tried, and my italian part of me hates myself for it. but your pictures are gorgeous!

Hopie said...

I have to agree with those previous comments about not liking anchovies. But, on the other hand, that does look appetizing!

Deborah Smith said...

It's 8am and I'm drooling over anchovies.

I love cooking with anchovies, they melt away and leave a nutty flavor that none of my guests ever detect is anchovies. I've never tried them on a sandwich.

Cathy said...

Yum, I love bagna cauda but have never made it. You've given me the incentive to try. This sounds divine.

Anonymous said...

Love anchovies, it's such a good source of umami. Have you ever tried curing your own anchovies?

Maria said...

I have never been a huge fan but maybe I will try them again!

alexandra's kitchen said...

Oh yum. Are white anchovies the same as Boquerones? The chef at the restaurant where I work makes his caesar salad dressing with boquerones and it is the best caesar dressing i have ever tasted. i would love this bagna cauda

Apples and Butter said...

Marc - No, I have never cured my own, they I've been reading about how to filet my own in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking so maybe curing will be the next step!

Alexandra - Boquerones are Spanish cured white anchovies, so what I've used here, cured white anchovies, would be pretty close to the same thing. I would definitely recommend these for a Caesar dressing!

Anonymous said...

I adore white anchovies, so much creamier and milder than the regular brown anchovies. I really want to give this dip a try with the white anchovies!

Alicia Foodycat said...

I really like bagna cauda - which vegetables were you dipping in it? I love it with sticks of cucumber or blanched broccoli.

August said...

I love bagna cauda, and recently made a pasta dish that is an extrapolation of that delicious dipping sauce. The recipe comes from "Cucina Ebraica", but is basically bagna cauda with the addition of a bunch of fresh italian parsley, lemon zest, and some toasted breadcrumbs. I tossed it with fettucine and the result was superb--delicate, perfectly balanced, and so satisfying.