Snail Cooking

Here is the instructions of the Initial Preparations followed by the preparation of the traditional Burgundy butter and less classic recipes in a part where you can (and should) intervene.

Initial Preparations

Traditional Method : After the escargot have passed a fasting period for 5 or 6 days in wooden boxes (never in plastic unless they have a bottom well ventilated, the objectives of which is to make them dry) they should be washed in running water or with a garden spout. Next they are put in a big container a layer of escargot with a hand full of rock salt. Follow this with another layer of escargot and another hand full of rock salt, etc. The escargot will issue a lot of foam in what is called disgorging themselves. We braise them for a while and then wash them again very carefully before scalding them. It is difficult and in my opinion, useless.

Personally : I never proceed as described above, even for the escargot gathered in the wild. I put them in a box of white wood (wood without tannic acid) with a bottom grating and raised 15 cm (5 in) above the ground so they can never touch the ground (to prevent them from eating the dirt or anything else). The first evening I wash them thoroughly with a garden spout. That activates them so they empty their intestines. The same step I do on the second and sometimes third evenings.(Note : you can give them dill (anethum) these first two or three days to give them a good flavour). If they are very dirty, it may be necessary to wash them one by one. During next three days, I leave them to dry.

After these three days or the salt treatment above, the escargots are put into boiling water where they are left for three minutes after water is boiling again. Then they are removed from their shells. The hepatho-pancreas ("tortillon" in french) can be cut off or not depending on preference. Lovers of the Petit Gris prefer the entire escargot whereas it is preferable to remove the hepatho-pancreas of the Gros Gris or other big species. The raw flesh is then put into cold water saturated with salt for one-quarter hour. They are rinsed thoroughly with fresh water after which they are ready for cooking or freezing.

If you want to use the escargot shells, first wash them in soda powder, rinse several times and boil them to sterilise them.

Traditional cooking method

The escargot flesh is cooked in Court Bouillon. You put it in fresh Court-Bouillon and heat progressively up to simmer for about 60 to 90 minutes depending on the size of the individual escargot.

Court- Bouillon : 1/2 liter of white wine for 1 liter of water in which we add parsley, thyme, laurel, onion, shallot, garlic, salt and pepper, clove, and other spices according to taste : anethum, mint, carrot... Quantities of each ingredient have to be test, it's the personal touch ! (1 liter = 1/4 us gal ).

Then escargot flesh is ready to be used in the recipes below or frozen.

The traditional "Escargots à la bourguignonne"

First prepare the "beurre d'escargots"

Butter of Escargot "a la Burgundy"

1 kilogram of butter (about 2 lbs)
25 grams of salt
5 grams of black pepper
150 grams of garlic
35 grams of shallot or scallions
90 grams of parsley

Garlic, shallot and parsley are chopped very fine. The whole is well mixed.

(Personal proportions can be modified. For example some people prefer have more shallots)

In each empty shell, place a little of this butter. Then push a cooked escargot into the shell. Fill the remaining space in the shell completely and smoothly with butter. Usually 5 grams are used for a shell (a tea spoon). Put in the oven (200 °C or 390 °F) just enough time needed to melt the butter. Serve immediately in special plates with holes. (Snails are picked with a special little fork).

Variations : The following is an extract of a letter received from Jean-Paul Boucher, professor of Cuisine in Dijon who also provided several other good recipes below.

"One or two recommendations that will permit variations in enjoyment :

In the traditional Butter of Escargot "a la Bourguignonne" add 0.1 liter of the aperitif Anise or some grains of Anise.

Enjoy yourself : You can also add 100 grams to 150 grams of mustard that will give a delicate aroma. Try the escargot with mustard with grains. Without meaning to advertise for anyone, the one address I found for strong mustard with grains is Ets. FALLOT 212000 BEAUNE.

These two tricks, aside from the aroma that they bring that will also facilitate the digestion of escargot for those who have a delicate liver."

The Good Recipes

If you are an amateur or a Professional Chef and know an excellent original recipe, don't hesitate to send it to us for the enjoyment of everyone.

Filet of Escargot "au Bleu de Langres" (for 8 people) generously sent by Jean-Paul Boucher, professor of cuisine : a recipe simple and at the same time, classy.

8 pastry shells in the form of a cup.
4 dozen of escargots
0.5 litre of milk
35 grams of flour
35 grams of butter
0.15 grams of Landre's Blue Cheese
0.1 litre Bourgogne aligote
Salt, pepper and nutmeg.

The day before the dinner, drain the escargots (in case of canned escargots) and then marinate them in the Bourgogne aligote. The rest of the bottle can be used to make Kir as an aperitif. (Kir is black current crème with dry white wine).
The d-day make a light Bechamel sauce well seasoned with salt, pepper and grated Nutmeg.
Lightly warm the pastry shells in a tepid oven.
Heat the escargot in the wine with a pinch of salt to keep them some taste.
Drain the escargot, distribute them among the pastry shells and keep them warmed in the oven.
Crumble the Langres blue cheese and mix it with the Bechamel sauce that should be hot.
Pour it in the pastry shells.
Place the filled pastry shells on the plates with a spoonful of sauce on the bottom with a small twig of chervil and a cherry tomato on each plate.
Eat very hot with the rest of the Bourgogne aligote (if any remains or plan for another bottle that is not a luxury when eight are at the table).

Remark: Langres Blue cheese is difficult to find. You can also use other good blue cheeses such as Bleu d'Auvergne, Bleu des Causses, Fourme d'Ambert or Fourme des Monts Yssingelais.

Brochettes (skewers) of Escargots A second recipe from Jean-Paul Boucher : another refined thing to serve as an aperitif.

Small wooden pikes
Parsley, garlic, shallots (scallions) and breadcrumbs.
Salt and pepper.
Chop the garlic, the parsley and the shallots and mix with the breadcrumbs.
Drain the escargot without drying them and put them on the pikes.
Roll the skewers in the mixture above.
Fry the breaded escargot in oil.
( 1/2 litre of oil in casserole, heat moderately : oil should not smoke).
Fry until each one is golden.
Serve hot!
This is regal.

Escargots with mushrooms

Clean and cut mushrooms. Saute, with a little garlic or onion according to your taste, for about 5 minutes, stop when there is no more water.

Season with salt and pepper, add snails (previously cooked, even still frozen) and a glass of white wine.

When wine is well reduced, add the above butter, or beurre à la bourguignonne. It is optional to add a little Cognac.

Stop cooking when butter begins to bubble and serve in special plates.

An alternative : replace butter by cream and chopped tarragon.

Goat cheese stuffing it's my best recipe (and very easy) :

proportions for 100 snails (previously cooked in court bouillon):

* 400 g of goat cheese ( or greek feta )
* 100 g of butter
* 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
* salt

Knead all together in order to obtain a smooth paste and use it as you would "beurre à la bourguignonne".

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