Bagna Cauda, A Sauce of Dreams Come True
My mind blistered in pain when I woke up this morning only to find myself under the covers in my apartment in New York. The night seemed endless in the dream I partook. A blissful dream in which I was in Italy with the chef I had worked with, scooping up Italian delicacies. Clearly my love for Italian food isn’t minimal. In an impulse, I almost booked a flight to Italy, that is until I realized my work schedule wouldn’t permit me to go anywhere, under any circumstances.
Since Italy is beyond reach for the moment, I made Bagna Cauda, blasted Cecilia Bartoli on my stereo, and invited my friends Frank and Amanda for dinner. Bagna Cauda, for the uninitiated, is a hot dipping sauce for vegetables or pieces of bread that appears in many Italian homes, particularly in Piedmonte. One part garlic, two parts anchovies, melted butter and olive oil sent its fragrance to announce a distinctively Italian presence. There is a ritual attached to dipping your veggies in this sauce. Each vegetable is dipped into the bagna cauda, cradled by a piece of bread. The idea is to not allow the sauce to spill on the table. The bread acts as a guardian, keeping the dip in its place. The routine is repeated until the plate is empty.
With the weather showing signs of shrewd cold, there is no reason not to fill your home with an intoxicating aroma. I have some left over, and I shall refrigerate it. Should I still dream of Italy, I will know that bagna cauda will come to my consolation. All I have to do is spread it on my toast, and I shall be singing along with Ms. Bartoli.
Bagna Cauda, A sauce of Dreams Come True
Makes 2 cups
1 stick of butter
1 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
4 whole cloves of garlic
6 pieces of anchovies, drained and bones removed
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)
1) Pour in the oil and the stick of butter into a sauce pan, and bring to heat. Simmer on very low heat. Do not color the butter or bring the butter and oil to boil.
2) Using a mortar and pestle, mesh the anchovies and garlic, until the anchovies turn into a paste.
3) Add the anchovies and garlic into the pot with the butter and the olive oil. Do not increase the heat.
4) Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture for 10 -15 minutes or until the anchovies are completely dissolved.
5) Add salt to taste.
6) Let the mixture cool at room temperature for about five minutes.
7) Pour the mixture into a blender along with 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
8) Blend until the ingredients are all emulsified.
9) Remove and serve over raw vegetables, cooked pasta or bread.