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Derek Dammann and Chris Johns, authors of True North, dish on what makes the perfect Bagna Cauda.
This is a pretty traditional dish in all aspects, mainly because It’s pretty much perfect already. As simple as it is, though, when it hits the table, It’s a real showstopper. This is a guideline as to the vegetables you can use, but ultimately, It’s up to you. The important thing is to cook each vegetable separately to make sure it’s done properly. It’s also nice to cut each type of vegetable a bit differently so the finished dish has a mix of textures and shapes. And make sure the cooked vegetables never see the fridgethey should be at room temperature.
For the dressing
40 anchovy fillets in oil
½ lb unsalted butter
12 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 fresh red chili pepper, split in half lengthwise, seeds intact
1 generous sprig fresh rosemary
1½ cups white wine
4 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
For the vegetables
2 fennel bulbs, quartered lengthwise and steamed (save the fronds for garnish if you like)
8 parsnips, peeled, cut into 3-inch lengths and boiled with a bit of lemon
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and steamed
4 carrots, peeled, steamed whole, then cut into quarters
1 bunch Swiss chard, steamed until tender
½ endive, cut into lengths and soaked in ice water for 1 hour
4 beets, peeled, boiled with a splash of cider vinegar, then sliced
For the dressing: Drain the anchovies, reserving the oil. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the anchovy oil. Add the garlic and allow to sizzle for about 30 seconds without taking on any colour. Add the anchovies, chili and rosemary sprig and stir with a wooden spoon until the anchovies have broken up and completely melted into the butter and oil. Add the wine and turn up the heat to cook off most of the alcohol. Add the cream, turn down the heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, discard the rosemary and the chili, and season with a couple of healthy turns of a pepper mill. Stir in the chopped parsley just before serving.
For the vegetables: Arrange the vegetables in separate piles on a platter. You can pour over the warm dressing or pour it into a warmed jug and pass it around at the table. Makes enough for 6 people to be very happy.
From True North by Derek Dammann and Chris Johns © 2015. Photography by Farah Khan. Published by Harper-Collins Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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