Make anchovy vinaigrette, the sauce of gods

The Purple Pig’s roasted broccoli with anchovy vinaigrette
The Purple Pig’s roasted broccoli with anchovy vinaigrette
Photo: Matt Haas (HaasandHaas)

Umami Issues is The Takeout’s exploration of cooking food with the rich, savory, mysterious taste sensation known as umami. 


I spent much of the last decade as a restaurant critic in Chicago. When people find out what I do, they invariably ask: “So what’s your favorite restaurant in town?” For critics, narrowing down to one restaurant is a nearly impossible answer. There’s usually a half dozen in rotation—and The Purple Pig is almost always in that grouping. Their tagline is “cheese, swine, and wine” and I’ve yet to experience a clunker dish from chef Jimmy Bannos, Jr.

That said, for a restaurant with rendered pork fat coursing through its veins, my favorite dish at The Purple Pig is its roasted broccoli. It’s a classic preparation—broccoli blistered dark, roasted garlic, topped with toasted breadcrumbs. The secret weapon, however, is the anchovy vinaigrette. I’m willing to exercise hyperbole and call it god sauce, because a sauce this delicious can start religions and convert anchovy-cynics.

What makes The Purple Pig’s anchovy vinaigrette better than standard-fare bagna cauda is its heavy reliance on confit garlic, which gives the sauce an undertow of roasty sweetness. Essentially, you add a cup of garlic cloves into a saucepan of oil, then let it cook at the lowest heat for an hour and a half until it’s soft and sweet. Add the softened garlic and garlicky oil into a food processor, whazz it up with anchovy fillets, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice, and you’ve got a nutty, magical sauce made to spoon over roasted broccoli/cauliflowers, a dip for garlic bread, a smear on grilled chicken thighs—I’ll bet it’s even good on a dirty hubcap.

I’ll only give you a framework of a recipe, because this sauce will test your mettle as a cook. You’ll need to taste, adjust, repeat. You may add more lemon juice, a pinch more salt, a few more swigs of olive oil—you know it’s done when you taste it and say: “Yeah. Uh huh (licks lips). That’s it.”

The Purple Pig’s Anchovy Vinaigrette

  • 1 can (2 oz.) of anchovy fillets in oil
  • 1 cup of raw garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup canola oil, or enough to cover the garlic in a saucepan
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt

Add all the garlic cloves into a saucepan and cover with enough canola oil to submerge the garlic. Turn the stove on low heat; you want a very gentle simmer. Check on the garlic often, you don’t want to burn it. After 90 minutes or so, the garlic should be pale and golden, soft enough for a fork to poke through without resistance. Taste it: It should be sweet, not bitter.

Illustration for article titled Make anchovy vinaigrette, the sauce of gods
Photo: Kevin Pang

Dump a tin of anchovies and its oil into a food processor. Then add all the softened garlic cloves and process until smooth. Keep the paste moving in the processor, slowly drizzle in the garlic oil, about half a cup, and then a few swigs of olive oil. You’ll want to achieve a thick emulsion that resembles spackle in consistency, and this may require more (or less) oil depending on the anchovies and garlic. Once you have a very thick mixture, squeeze in lemon juice and pulse until the mixture thins to salad dressing viscosity. Taste and adjust with lemon and salt.


Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.


Global Beet

Not going to lie to you, not exactly feeling the canola oil. I’ll just swap that out for olive or grapeseed