i heart bagna cauda

March 9th, 2009 · 40 Comments

the literal translation of bagna cauda means warm bath. but in my world bagna cauda is a truly delectable warm and sexy mixture of anchovy, garlic, butter and olive oil in which to dip vegetables, bread and really whatever else you deem appropriate. because dear readers, i am not here to judge you and you certainly don’t need to report back to me…. but just so you know, i personally settled upon baking more of the wine infused batali pizza dough, this batch completely unadorned and fortified with a cup of ‘white whole wheat’ flour, along with simply grilled tiger shrimp, raw celery stalks, chunks of red and yellow bell peppers, radicchio and endive. sadly, there were no cardoons in sight. had there been i would’ve been even happier than i already was – if that could have been possible.

i finally bought a can of "real" anchovies, unlike that unrealized inferior product that comes in little tins and jars. this is the industrial sized can from italy. the kind that real chefs use. because although i am a hack, i still want my food to be as good as i can make it. and since i’m only willing to go so far, i wind up relying heavily on the best ingredients i can get my hands on. you can pretty much fool all of the people all of the time with this method of cooking. take that, abe.

so let’s talk about this whole anchovy business, shall we?

this is a very large and empty can that once housed a school of sicilian anchovies weighing in at one kilo.

i forgot to take a shot of the full can, if only so i could show you the salt packed anchovies all neatly crisscrossed in rows. i only used about 8 of the little fish and the rest quickly went into a container and were covered with olive oil to keep them relatively oxygen free and ready for action at my beck and call – for the next 2 years – which is about how long it’ll take me to go through them. AND by the way you have to chop off the tails and remove their guts and backbone. i was not aware of this prior to my $28 purchase. but if i had it all to do over again, i’d snap up a can of this fishy goodness in a ny minute. they are barely comparable to what i’ve used in the past…. and if mario were god, and if god were in heaven – he’d be smiling down at me. as it stands now he has no real idea that i exist which – funny enough, is how i feel about god…

but i digress…

so i made the bread. and then i made the bagna cauda. after that i chopped up the peppers and grilled the shrimp. the spread got laid out on my table along with the lettuces and a damn fine bottle of barbera (2006 agostino pavia & figli barbera d’asti ‘blina’) that at $16 just thrilled me. and it was uncorked. and then we ate. and it perhaps wasn’t a gorgeous spread, inappropriate for even a novice photo shoot such as this – but it was incredibly good to eat. of this much i can assure you.

naturally, the calories were relatively high but i had eaten sparsely (again) that day, and once again reigning it way back the next. but it felt like clean food. i felt really good after i ate. and after weighing myself yesterday i’m down about 11 lbs in 6 weeks… so in 4 months i should be me again. and i will have done it without torturing myself. torture is bad. when it comes to myself i have a total no torture policy, though i make no guarantees what i am capable of doing to you.

and back by popular demand: grace, the amazing growing puppy – at 14 weeks.

(she’s all mine and you can’t have her…)

Tags: bread · fish · seafood · vegetables

40 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris // Mar 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Can I borrow her?

  • 2 Jesse // Mar 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Haha, I love this post! Losing weight without torturing yourself… you go girl! And Grace is such a sweetie pie!

  • 3 maggie (p&c) // Mar 9, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    that is a whole lotta anchovies. but sounds delicious. and congrats on your weight loss, you must feel great!

  • 4 Brittany // Mar 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Lovely food.

    This is generally how I eat, as I don’t have the skills or the patience to knock out highly involed meals after spending 8 hours in the kitchen at work.

    Oh, how I need to make that pizza dough!!

  • 5 heather // Mar 9, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    oh i so agree with you. bagna cauda is love.



  • 6 Melissa // Mar 9, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Fantastic. Never had anything like this. Now the real anchovies? Those I need to try. I learned from YOU that high quality ingredients go a loooooong way.

    And hello Grace! What’s that you say? You want to come live with me instead of her? She scares you with Swiss what??


  • 7 cookiecrumb // Mar 9, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Oh, so good. You need to eat great food when you’re “slimming.” Otherwise your metabolism goes haywire. Nice.

  • 8 Tracy W. // Mar 9, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Beautiful Italian food again! YOU ROCK!

  • 9 we are never full // Mar 9, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    you have got to STOP putting pictures of your dog on here!! it takes away from the food! SO cute. omg.

    we did bagna cauda a few months ago and, when you can really eat carbs again, try grilling some small new potatoes – the combo is to die for.

  • 10 The Italian Dish // Mar 9, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Wow! I’m impressed with the 11 pound weight loss. Very impressed. And I’ve got the exact same tin of anchovies in my fridge right now. I keep them packed in the salt and just dig out what I need and they keep for ages, if you keep them covered with the salt. They adorn my pizza every week. And, oh yeah – Grace is gorgeous!

  • 11 Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer // Mar 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    you go girl!!
    Gracie is adorable and i too have a 14 week old pup AKA my therapist lexi!!!

  • 12 krysta // Mar 9, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    i could eat my weight in that, but then i wouldn’t be losing weight either. these types of meals are my favorite and i like the photography.

  • 13 Vincent // Mar 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm


    i waited until the kids were gone to make this tonight. wrong move – maybe ash could’ve saved me from smearing it all over everything it the house. delish.

    whats the oil to butter ratio you use? i use a shit load and a shit load. or a fucking bunch of each. the salted anchovies are so good though – guts and all actually.

  • 14 John // Mar 10, 2009 at 2:29 am

    “he has no real idea that i exist which – funny enough, is how i feel about god”

    Ah, yes… come over to the dark side…

    …bring food…

    … and Grace… what a cutie!!!! :-)

    Yes, even us athiests like puppies (and, no, I don’t mean braised with carrots, onions and celery).

  • 15 John // Mar 10, 2009 at 2:32 am

    atheists* (doh! hate typos!)

  • 16 democommie // Mar 10, 2009 at 5:34 am


    I know what you mean about the anchovies; the can I have says “filets”. I opened it up–little slivers of fish with nary a speck or bacon wrapped goodness. Filets my aunt Earl!

    That food ALL looks yummy.

    Btw, we don’t want to take Grace away, we just want to spoil her rottener!

  • 17 Julia // Mar 10, 2009 at 5:53 am

    If you’re going high calorie – this is the way to go!

    I made bagna cauda in cooking school a hundred years ago, and loved it so much.. but for some reason haven’t had it since.

    P.S. I’ll be posting a great recipe for braised artichokes soon that uses a ton of anchovies.

  • 18 Pam // Mar 10, 2009 at 6:25 am

    I’m afraid to try bagna cauda. Afraid that I’ll want it every day, every meal.

  • 19 Jennifer Hess // Mar 10, 2009 at 6:29 am

    …and now I need bagna cauda. And a stunningly beautiful puppy.

  • 20 Peter // Mar 10, 2009 at 7:17 am

    If you actually bathe in it I think the calorie count is lower.

  • 21 Heather // Mar 10, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Oh, bagna claudia. I love it too.

    btw, I hope you saved that anchovy oil. It’s perfect for salad dressings and marinades, and be stored in a little jar in the freezer. Adds zip to grilled veggies.

  • 22 Lesley // Mar 10, 2009 at 11:38 am

    See, when I was a meat eater, I wanted to make sure that whatever I ate in no way resembled how it looked when it was alive. Which is why I had no business eating it. I can’t imagine boning and anchovy.

    That’s just waiting for CLC to make a comment. :)

  • 23 Lauren // Mar 10, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    anchovies are yucky…though they do remind me of ben stiller, for reasons of which you are aware.

  • 24 Choosy Beggar Tina // Mar 10, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I am also of the ‘anchovies are your FRIEND!’ school of thought. Bagna cauda may be an olive oil base, but it’s still healthier than so many dips out there – and you get a hella bang for your buck!
    PS – When I get a salt craving I like to snack on a few anchovies out of the jar in my fridge…so what if I won’t get kissed for the rest of the night, it’s totally worth it.

  • 25 democommie // Mar 10, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Choosy Beggar Tina:

    Lips that touch anchovies can always touch mine! I just finished eating some cassoulet that was made by a chef I know. I loaned him my seven quart dutch oven and he was grateful That stuff was sublime. I still lived with someone they would prolly make me sleep in the car–my car–and I wouldn’t complain.

  • 26 maris // Mar 10, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Eh. I don’t love anchovies. I don’t mind the flavor IN things, like caesar dressing but the texture grosses me out.

    Your batali pizza dough though- mmmm!

  • 27 Amy // Mar 11, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Interesting. I’ve always been intrigued by anchovies…I’ve had them before…It still leaves me intrigued.

    : P

  • 28 Greg // Mar 11, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Very fine. So simple, yet sooo good.

    I’ll save my evil comments about butter (and maybe Paula Deen) for another time :)

  • 29 claudia // Mar 11, 2009 at 9:44 am

    greg, sooooo good
    you left out 2 o’s

    amy, intriguing to say the least!

    maris, no texture here. blended all up…

    people – anchovy breath is not the worst thing ever. a night of beans? much worse…

    lauren – yucky is a dumb word, miss i got a 3.94

    lesley – boning them is easy. taked 5 seconds

    heather – i will definitely save this oil. for sure. but the can is a briny substance.

    peter – why didn’t i think of that?

    jen – the puppy is beyond sweet. so different than kitties. so IN YOUR FACE.


    julia – mmmm… artichokes and anchovies, a perfect union.

    and to everyone else… a big anchovy laced kiss. thank you for commenting. i get so tired of scrolling up and losing my place and well, i gotta go play with my puppy.

  • 30 lo // Mar 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Oh, wow. The first time I made bagna cauda for Peef, he called it “Love.” Needless to say, from there on out we made “love” instead of bagna cauda. Not a bad deal, really :)

    Oh, and did I mention that Peef hates anchovies?? Yeah, right. Silly boy.

  • 31 Brooke // Mar 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Warm bath indeed! Sounds like a little cup of happy. Perfect for prawns. And ice cream. Anything, really. Like bacon. Now I’m hungry.

  • 32 zenchef // Mar 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I can tell from the can these anchovies are fabulous! You make me crave bagna cauda now.. gosh at 11:20pm.. not good! I’m mean great! I hate you..no i love you! hehe.

    That’s a damn-good looking dog!

  • 33 rachel // Mar 12, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    That looks like my kind of supper and my kind of pup while we are at it.
    I am with you on the good anchovies, I said goodbye to those oily over salted little jars when I arrived in Rome. My Sicilian boyfriend has some dodgy source which are nop notch despite dubious origins.
    I love the way you write but it’s so tight and funny i find myself reading at 100mph and all over excited, have to read things twice.

  • 34 Abby @ mangerlaville // Mar 15, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Your puppy is gorgeous. I love bagna cauda, so delicious. I am glad you shared a recipe. I love anchovies.

  • 35 Bren // Mar 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    *sexy mixture*! love. i love sexy food. make all the time. i’m not so crazy about anchovies but they work in this receta…

    how u b, chick?

  • 36 Ethel // Mar 19, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    I never met an anchovy I didn’t like. But that’s a huge tin of a fish you use infrequently. I’m sure it tasted different from my little tins. I’m tasting it already in ceasar salad dressing.
    Great photo of beautiful Gracie.

  • 37 Marc @ NoRecipes // Mar 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Mmmm I love bagna cauda. I made some with bacon not so long ago. You’re definitely not a hack, especially if you’re going out and buying cans of real anchovies! I have a hard enough time forking over $12 bucks for a small tin of imported anchovies, I can’t even imagine how much that thing cost you! Nicely done:-)

  • 38 Julia // Mar 30, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Hi Claudia,

    If it’s not too late, I just posted a recipe that uses lots of anchovies… good if you still have an abundance.


  • 39 Marla // Apr 3, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I just discovered your blog from over at Zen chef’s and what a delight. I am a tad late to the party here, but must compliment you for taking the plunge for the real deal anchovies. I live in the ancestral home of Bagna Cauda, and it does make all the difference! I am however a little shocked by the mark up on the price of your can. Almost cheaper to take a trip here to Italy and stock up!

  • 40 daniel kurtek // Dec 31, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    My first experience with bagna cauda was as a teenager in midwest. (Mid Seventies) It was total love at first taste and have made it a traditional thing around the new years eve . I’ve learned thru the years many variations on the recipe and that it can go with many things such as over pasta or as a dip! My basic recipe has heavy cream but I’ve seen without. Try adding small amount of pinenuts or shelled pistachios! I have never made a bad batch and people just love the flavor of this amazing multi purpous recipe!!!

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  • 47 Raidyris // Nov 19, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Michael, we know Dominick’s well. Always an experience fun and filnilg. Used to be that anything we ordered came to $20/person. Next time, try Rigoletto’s down the street. Great Sunday afternoon experience. On your next trip to the Cape, you will be treated to dinner at Rebecca and Bill Gallerizzo’s home and you WILL cry ..Love all of your posts. A presto.

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