18/10/2007

Escargot in Garlic and Shallot Butter

Escargot? Yes, that's snails! Snails? Really? Hell, yeah!!!

Snails are consumed across Europe, the Mediterranean and the Far East. There is much misinformation around the preparation, proposing snails as complicated in preparation and even dangerous to eat.

Let's prepare some snails ...

Catch a number of snails from your garden and put them in a ventilated box from which they cannot naturally escape.

For a week, or so, feed them human consumable food to purge their guts out of soil and grit. Lettuce leaves, herbs, that kind of thing - strong herbs are great because the snails will adopt that flavour!

Two or three days before you want to cook them, do not feed them any more. This will purge out their digestive tract. Commercially, snails are simply hung up in baskets for a couple of weeks.

Wash the snails thoroughly and bring up a large pan of water to the boil and maintain a rolling boil. Simply add the snails to the water and boil for three minutes.

Drain the water and then tackle each snail in turn with a special two prong fork to winkle them out of their shells. The shells can be re-washed and used later to place the cooked snails back into for serving, but this is not necessary.

Salting is not necessary, nor is cornflower; both were believed to remove the sliminess from the snails, but simple boiling is all that is necessary.

... or simply buy a can of prepared snails.


Finely chops some shallot and much garlic, placing in an ovenproof dish.

Add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and some butter, lard, dripping or bacon grease.

Add the snails and bake in a pre-heated oven for a ten minutes or so at 180C, or fry off on the hob. Oven cooking retains more moisture.

Serve over a plate of the things you fed the snails - lettuce, cabbage, herbs and so on, and a good grind of freshly milled black pepper.

Bon appetit!

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