Basically, Piemonte's bagna cauda is a "hot bath" of olive oil, anchovies and plenty of garlic in a terra cotta pot warmed over embers (or a chafing-dish arrangement) in the center of the table. This recipe, from wine maker Giacomo Bologna, uses a whopping pound of garlic for every liter of extra-virgin olive oil. At the end, when only a little sauce is left in the bagna cauda pot, it's usual to break an egg into the pot for each person, and let it cook very slowly.
1/4 pound whole salt-packed anchovies
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 pound (about 4 heads) cloves garlic, peeled
1 or 2 eggs per person, at room temperature
Small white truffle, optional
Fillet whole anchovies under running water, washing away all salt. Remove scales and intestines from anchovies if needed. Pat dry, roughly chop and set aside.
Heat olive oil and butter in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute garlic until lightly golden. Add anchovies and cook gently, stirring, until anchovies dissolve into sauce, about 15 to 20 minutes. (Be careful not to burn garlic.) Pass sauce through fine sieve.
Keep sauce warm in chafing pot and serve with Assorted Vegetables. When everyone is sated on vegetables, and only small amount sauce remains in pot, break 1 or 2 eggs for each person into bubbling sauce. Cover and cook few minutes. When eggs begin to set, break yolks with fork and gently stir. (Eggs should be soft curds.) Shave white truffle over cooked eggs just before serving. Makes 6 servings.
Salt-packed anchovies are sold in bulk at some Italian groceries or international delicatessens. If you use anchovy fillets in oil, rinse well and add small amount at time, since these are generally saltier and stronger tasting than salt-packed anchovies. Remember weight in recipe refers to whole salt-packed anchovies, so use much less if you are weighing out fillets only.
Cardoons, washed and trimmed, cut ends rubbed with little lemon juice to prevent discoloring
Raw or roasted sweet red peppers, cut in quarters or strips
Celery stalks, cut up
Turnips, cut in quarters
Carrots, whole or cut in strips
Fennel, cut in quarters
Small whole onions, roasted in oven
Beets, baked in jackets, peeled and sliced
Radicchio, escarole and other bitter greens, separated into leaves