Bagna Cauda (Hot Bath)

Bagna Cauda literally translates into “hot bath”.  This is a traditional holiday treat that seems to be on the menu for brunch for most of our holiday meals.  While the non-Italians sit around eating cheeseballs with Ritz crackers for their appetizers, we are dipping crunchy bread in a slurry of butter, olive oil, garlic, and anchovies.  Being Italian is awesome!

Dad is the bagna cauda master, and this is his recipe and technique.  It is best done in an electric skillet.


1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (Dad says NO margarine)

2 cans of anchovies packed in olive oil

4 tablespoons of olive oil

12 cloves of garlic chopped fine

Sliced crusty bread

celery stalks

steamed onion



Heat the electric skillet to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter

Add about four tablespoons of  good olive oil

Add the anchovies.  It is best if you grind them in a small food processor first.  If not, you will have to break them up a little bit in the pan with a spoon or fork.

Once the anchovies are crushed up a bit, add the garlic

All of this needs to cook for about ten minutes or so.  Everything will get to be a dark golden brown and the flavor will intensify. The butter will brown as will the garlic  (DO NOT LET IT BURN!)  The anchovies will kind of dissolve. Let it cook until it colors up or you are missing out on all of the flavor.

Now turn the heat down to warm and start dipping.

Smashing the anchovies with a wooden spoon while everything starts to cook.

Traditionally we use sliced vienna bread, celery, and cabbage leaves.  Take an onion and poke a few holes in it and steam in the microwave for about three minutes or until it is soft.  Peel it and dip a piece of the onion in the bagna cauda on a slice of bread!

Mom  says that her family used to add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the sauce after it had cooked.  She states is wonderful but of course extremely rich.