The Stinking Rose in SF and their bagna calda

Bagna cauda garlic in olive oil appetizer

At The Stinking Rose (325 Columbus, SF) they have an appetizer called ‘bagna calda.’  This is something I really like, so I make my own version at home all the time.  It tastes best with fresh garlic, but go ahead and use that large tub o’ garlic from Costco.  This is more or less a dish of garlic confit that you eat by sopping it up with hunks of crusty bread.  You need:  many whole cloves of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, anchovies (if you like), red pepper flakes (if you like), a piece of lemon and a glazed clay sauté pan (or any heavy-gauge sauté pan).  If you have a flame tamer, use it.  You do:  put the garlic in the sauté pan and pour olive oil in to cover the cloves completely.  Add a bit of black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Set the pan on a very, very, very low flame and let her rip for about an hour and a half – until the garlic is soft and golden brown.  You do not want to fry the garlic!  Check it often to make sure you are not frying the garlic!  If you like anchovies, chop up a few and toss them in whenever you like.  If you want them liquefied, add at the beginning.  If you want them macho, add at the end.  If you don’t use anchovies you will need to add salt to this dish.  Squeeze a little lemon in right before you serve it.  Note:  you can place the ingredients in a casserole and bake in a low oven until the garlic is soft – but not the lemon, which should always be added right before service.  Have a bunch of baguettes and some hearty wine available.  Once you make this a few times you can customize it to taste, as I do.  The version I photographed as it was on the stove has a few green olives and has a ways to go.

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