Bagna Cauda is a signature of the Piedmont region of Italy. This traditional dish — which translates as “hot bath” — is an intoxicating warm dip made from garlic, butter, and anchovies into which vegetables are dipped. It’s so good a region has claimed it as one of its signature dishes, so there should be no hesitation about whether or not this is worth the effort. In its homeland, the dish is part of the celebration of the end of the grape harvest, and it’s designed to feed a crowd. When you’re celebrating — at the vineyard or wherever — this recipe can easily double or triple depending on the size of your crowd.
Pour the olive oil into a medium pan. Add the minced anchovies and garlic. Turn the heat to low. Stir the oil and let it gently bubble for about 5 minutes. Then add the butter and swirl and stir to melt it, about another minute or two. Serve warm with the vegetables and bread for dipping.
We like to use a microplane to finely mince garlic for a dish like this. You can also finely mince it with a knife.
It is best to serve the bagna cauda warm so the fats don’t congeal. It is not unheard of to serve it heated like fondue so that the butter and oil are always liquid.