In conjunction with our feature on Bradford Lewis’s wine dinner at Bowers Harbor Vineyards, we asked Chef Bradford to share a recipe from the dinner. Enjoy!
Bagna Càuda translated from Italian means “hot bath”. Traditionally a dish from the Piedmont region in northern Italy, it usually consists of only anchovies, garlic, and butter. Used as a dip for raw or blanched vegetables, it fits in perfectly with the upcoming Bowers Harbor Vineyards winemaker’s dinner in their new tasting room. The warm toasted garlic flavor is backed up by the high quality anchovies, and the cashews coupled with butter, lend a rich but not too luxuriant feel to the dish.
The mixture is to be kept warm, but not too warm or else the copious amounts of butter will leach out. A dish to be shared and enjoyed with groups of people, or alone on a cold winter’s day, it is best accompanied by bracingly acidic whites. The typical winter’s harvest of blanched root vegetables like turnips, carrots, potatoes, and parsnips tossed with a light vinaigrette and fresh herbs elevates this informal side dish from simple, to the sublime.
I chose this as one of the starters for my winemaker’s dinner at Bowers Harbor Vineyards because of its approachability. Perfectly at home sitting on a hard wood bar while winter chilled patrons imbibe their sparkling wines, the aroma will fill the room and let everybody’s noses know that good things are happening in the kitchen.
Bagna Càuda Recipe
Yields: one cup
8 tbsp unsalted Butter (divide into 3, 2, and 3 tbsp. You’ll see why)
4 olive oil cured Anchovy fillets, minced
2 medium cloves of Garlic, sliced thin
1/3 cup minced yellow Onion
1/8 tsp. Chili flakes
1/3 cup chopped toasted Cashews
1/2 tsp. Red wine vinegar
1 medium Lemon juiced
1/4 tsp. La Chinata Smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. Sriracha
3 tbsp. Room temp water
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Using a heavy bottomed, medium size sauté pan, add your first 3 tablespoons of butter and allow to sizzle until the milk solids begin to brown slightly. Add your sliced garlic, minced anchovy fillets, and chilli flakes. Cook, stirring constantly until the garlic has started to brown slightly and the anchovy has dissolved into the buttery goodness.
Add the minced onion, and cook, stirring occasionally until translucent. Add cashews, lemon juice, and vinegar. Remove from heat.
When mixture has stopped sizzling, but is still hot, stir in the next two tablespoons of butter and the smoked paprika. When butter has fully melted, pour all into a food processor (2 cup size) and puree, adding the last three tablespoons of cold butter continuing to spin it until the butter is incorporated. Add the three tablespoons of water while it is spinning.
Puree until smooth, add Sriracha, salt and pepper, add to warmed serving dish and garnish with a dash of smoked paprika and minced fresh Oregano.
If it gets too hot, it will break and the will look oily. It will still be delicious if this happens, just don’t tell anybody that it’s not how it is supposed to be.
Leftovers are excellent the next day if used as the base mixture for egg salad sandwiches.
Bradford is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, studied under James Beard Award winning Chef Greg Higgins in Portland, Oregon and was the Sous Chef at Tapawingo Restaurant. He is currently the chef/proprietor of Food Forward Private Dinners creating intimate, custom, dining experiences for small groups of people. Focusing on quality, seasonality, and technique, a truly individual menu is born for each event. By partnering with local winemaker’s, farmers, and personal in-home diners, Chef Bradford hopes to spread the word of good cooking. He also has Sommelier experience and writes a monthly food column for the Petoskey News Review. You may reach him via email.