Escargot may not be something you even want to think about let alone edible ones, and
if you haven't yet tried them, the idea may not be very appealing... but you may
well be surprised!
Escargot is a dish of cooked land snails, usually served as an appetizer in France and in French restaurants, and it is no secret that many people find snails to be a delicious starter to a meal, something of a delicacy, which makes them rather expensive.
In rural parts of France, it is not unusual to see locals
wandering the roadside hedgerows searching for snails.
But before they can be eaten:
Like most molluscs, escargots are high in protein (as much as 15%) and low in fat (if cooked without butter), but in reality they are about 80% water.
The snails are first prepared by purging them of the likely undesirable contents of their digestive systems.
The process used to accomplish this varies, but generally involves a combination of fasting and purging or simply feeding them on a wholesome replacement like grape leaves, lettuce, apples, flour or bran.
Something that will clean their system of the food they naturally consume which can be harmful to humans. The methods most often used can take several days.
Farms producing snails (Helix aspersa) for sale exist in Europe and in the United States.
In the late
1980s, escargots represented a $300 million-a-year business in the US.
The snails are placed in a pot of cold water with some salt and a few drops of vinegar where the waste will be purged from their bodies.
With a sharp the snail foot is removed, which is the cover over the opening of the shell. Then placed in a pot of with lots of cold water. Any snails that float are thrown out.
Then 2 or 3 snails are taken out and rubbed together by hand, set aside and the process is continued until all have been rubbed.
The water is discarded, the snails placed back into the pot and filled again with lots of cold water and the process repeated again.
Then the snails need to be rinsed very well.
Snails are usually cooked with garlic, butter, chicken stock or wine.
Often snails are placed back into their shells with the butter and sauce for serving.
Additional ingredients may be added, such as garlic, thyme, parsley and pine nuts.
Buy canned snails at the grocery store!
But, place them in a bowl, cover with cold water and let sit for several minutes to remove any flavor they may have picked up from the can.
Then, dry them well with paper towel or clean kitchen towel before adding to the recipe of your choice.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Grease a casserole, then melt 6 tbsp butter in a saucepan, add 1 clove garlic, 2 cups mushrooms, stir and cook about 5 minutes.
Whisk ⅓ cup wine, ⅓ cup cream, 1 tbsp four, ¼ tsp dried tarragon, until smooth and slowly add to saucepan bringing to a boil, stir often for 10 minutes, salt and pepper to taste, then remove from heat.
Arrange mushrooms and snails in casserole dish, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.
Place in oven until golden, about 12 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas6.
Melt 2tbsp butter in saucepan, sweat 1 sliced shallot and 24 snails for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper, set aside in bowl.
In processor or blender 8 cloves of garlic, 1 cup parsley, 12 large basil leaves, add ½ cup unsalted butter chopped into pieces, little salt and pepper. Place snails in oven proof serving dishes and generously cover with garlic butter blend, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, croutons or puff pastry.