Slow cooking is the secret to success with bagna cauda, the warm anchovy and garlic dip that is a specialty of Italy’s Piedmont region. There, diners dunk vegetables in a communal pot of bagna cauda (“hot bath”). Here, the pungent mixture is a sauce for steamed broccoli. You may need a flame tamer to keep the bagna cauda from burning. For this dish, it’s crucial that you choose your anchovies carefully. I like the meaty, oil-packed Agostino Recca anchovies from Sicily; they come in a glass jar (or salt-packed in large tins: these you must fillet and rinse).
In a small, heavy saucepan, heat the butter and 1 Tbs. of the olive oil over low heat until the butter melts. Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; don’t let the garlic brown. Add the remaining oil and the anchovies and stir to dissolve the anchovies. Cook, stirring occasionally, over lowest heat for 30 minutes, using a flame tamer if necessary to keep the garlic and anchovies from burning. The mixture should barely simmer.
While the bagna cauda cooks, trim the broccoli spears, leaving 2 inches of stem attached to the florets. Pare the stems with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife and then halve or quarter the spears lengthwise, depending on thickness.
Steam the broccoli over boiling water in a covered saucepan until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean dishtowel and pat dry and then arrange the spears on a platter or individual serving dishes. Spoon the bagna cauda over the spears.
nutrition information (per serving):
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Photo: Ben Fink