Snails are cooked in stock and dry white wine and seasoned with butter, parsley, garlic and shallots in this uniquely French treat also known as Escargot. Considered a luxury food since the Roman times, snails were a common feature in Roman cuisine. A specialty in French gastronomy, escargot is often featured in the menu of fine-dining French restaurants around the world and some people even made this as one of their favorite gourmet foods.
Live snails need to be purged and prepared for several days before they can be cooked safely. Snails sold in the market or grocery is usually already purged. Canned snails are also available and are sold in various sizes. Typically a small size consists of four-dozen small snails, a medium size contains three-dozen medium snails, and a large pack contains two-dozen large snails. Canned snails are already cooked in a court bouillon consisting of water, salt and spices. The snails are soaked in the cooking water and packed along with the liquid. You can also use canned snails to make this recipe. Make sure to drain the snails thoroughly and rinse under cold running water to get the saltiness out of the snails. You don’t have to cook the snails until they are tender. Simply heat them in the butter and flavor them with the wine and veal fond. Cover them in the parsley butter sauce and serve with a bottle of wine.
If you are using land snails from your garden, make sure that they are the edible variety. The most commonly eaten species of snails in France are Helix pomatia and Helix aspersa (petit-gris), and Helix lucorum. Before cooking the land snails, place them in a wooden box and purge them for several days. The live snails are forced to fast so that harmful toxins they might have ingested will go out of their body. You can also put them on a diet of cornmeal. Wash the snails well with running water before cooking.
For the Snail Butter:
28 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 ½ tablespoons chopped shallots
1 ¾ tablespoons chopped garlic
3 teaspoons salt, pepper
6 dozen snails
3 ½ tablespoons butter
¾ cup wine (Sylvaner)
3/4 cup veal fond (stock)
1. Combine softened butter, minced parsley, chopped shallots, and chopped garlic, mixing well until you get a smooth and even paste. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. Prepare and clean the snails well then carefully remove them from their shells. Set the meat and the shells aside.
3. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the snails and sauté them until tender. Add wine and veal fond. Add salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
4. With a slotted spoon, separate the snails from the sauce and put them back in their shells, along with some of fluid used to cook them. Season the shells with the snail butter mixture.
5. Place the buttered snails on a baking dish and cook in a 356 degrees F. oven for about 10 minutes. Serve warm.