My first experience with snails was as a high-schooler. I was taking French language classes (lots of them) and we had a field trip to a local French restaurant in my town. I ordered the escargots. Way back then, you could get the snail in the shell (I will explain later). I used the special snail tong and fork tool to get the snail out of its shell and the snail and shell flipped all the way over across the large round table to the floor, just barely missing hitting the other French students! Thank goodness no one was hit in the eye by a snail. I cannot even remember the taste at all, just the experience.
With last night’s escargot adventure, it was all about the experience AND the taste. I LOVED THEM!!! I could not get enough. It had to be the recipe. It was a wonderful mix of butter, garlic, parsley, white wine and very easy to prepare.
Snails today do not come packaged in their shells. Often times, the snails come in tins and you can get the shells separately and what happens in restaurants is that the snail is cooked and then stuffed back into the shell for presentation. If you can find a fresh snail anywhere, then you are living near where they are living.
In preparation for this recipe, look for the best snail in a can, preferably French. I found some from Thailand and they were pretty darn good. You might have to go to a gourmet specialty store and get them-French or otherwise. I did not get the shell…too fussy for a weeknight meal but I will for something fancier in the future.
Here’s how they are prepared. Adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook.(My pics at end)
- 24 snails
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 head of garlic, peeled
- 1 oz flat parsley leaves
- 4 oz butter
- Salt and pepper
- baguette slices
- snail shells (optional)
In the small sauté pan, combine the snails, shallot, and white wine and bring to a simmer, then cook for 15 minutes. Drain and set the snails aside.
Combine the garlic and parsley in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the butter and process until the mixture is a smooth, green paste. Season with salt and pepper.
Place a snail in each shell and then fill the shell to the top with the parsley butter. Preheat the oven broiler, place the snails in a baking dish, and broil until the butter is sizzling. Serve immediately with baguette slices.
If you don’t have shells, line a sauté pan with baguette slices, add the parsley butter, and melt over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the snails. As soon as the butter is sizzling, remove from the oven and serve immediately.