I’ve never wanted to dive into a pool of oil so badly after the first time I tried Bagna cauda. It was love at first sight, or should I say … bite. It’s not the most appealing looking dish in the world, unless you just happen to be a garlic snob, like I tend to be. The first time I had Bagna cauda was at a brewery in Flagstaff, AZ. Since then, every time I see it on a menu, I order it. This is my spicy, herby version on a classic Piedmont, Italy dish. Traditionally served with anchovies, I decided to skip that ingredient, and it’s not that I have anything against anchovies. I surprisingly enjoy them. I just wanted to remove some of that saltiness, and focus on the spiciness.
There are many, many version of Bagna cauda out there. It’s most commonly served like a fondue, where all four ingredients (garlic, anchovies, oil and butter) have been pulverized. You normally just smear it on toast and all is well. I’ve had Bagna cauda served both ways: in whole garlic form and pulverized. I tend to enjoy the whole garlic form way just a little bit better.
There’s just something about taking a whole garlic clove and smearing it on a piece of toast and indulging.
Prepare to smell like garlic for 3-4 months (not really, but hopefully you understand the exaggeration), but as long as everyone else around you is indulging, there should be no problem right?
At least steer clear of the gym for a few days. Go for a run or something. ;)
The recipe is simple…like beyond simple. It’s best served in the fall and winter months which is why I decided to share it with you guys now! All of the ingredients, less the herbs, red pepper flakes and bread and veggies, are thrown into a small cast iron skillet or small baking dish. You bake, covered, for about 2 hours or so. The result is creamy, aromatic garlic. Top with fresh herbs and red pepper flakes.
When I say “small cast iron skillet” I mean small. You know the kind you get at restaurant chains that are served with dip (ahem…queso and spinach dip?), yeah that kind of cast iron skillet. It’s not mandatory by any means, and a tiny baking dish will do just fine.