Good Cooking..."A Mouthwatering Site on the Internet" since 1995
Antique Walnut & Pewter Fork circ. 1880 Bohemia
Caracoles de Tierra---Espanol
Love them or hate them! Good Cooking loves them and wants you to
know the proper way of preparing them too! For the lover there is only one true
snail to eat, that is the Helix Burgundy snail from France. Rather than go into
the history and tradition of French enjoyment of snails Good Cooking suggests
that you know a few things. Not all snails you buy are Helix Burgundy snails, in
fact many are from all over the world including Malaysia, Ecuador and China.
They are very different in size, taste and texture, although most of these are
often somewhat cheaper. For the purpose of this instruction, Good Cooking is
recommending the Helix above the others you may buy. The snails come in small
and large cans and vary in size. Recommended is the size of 72 count per 850
Here is what you will have to do to prepare them in the true
French Burgundy fashion.
Prepare Beurre d'escargot, a.k.a. Snail or Garlic Butter
Open, drain and poach the snails
Have snail shells or snail baking dishes available
Have an oven capable of heating to 450
Be hungry and have a bottle of Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais
Beurre d'escargot a.k.a. Snail or Garlic Butter
Enough for 72 snails---6 dozen
1 pound unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
4 tablespoons shallots, chopped fine
2 tablespoons garlic, minced---remove the center shoot
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper---not Tabasco sauce!
3/4 cup bread crumbs, fresh white, trimmed of crusts
Combine all ingredients except the bread and mix well with hands or electric
mixer, then fold in the bread crumbs. Roll the butter into 2 individual logs or
store in plastic containers.
To prepare the snails for stuffing in shells or cocotte (a snail dish)
The Snails are drained from the can and rinsed with cold water. Place them in a
non-reactive pot and cover with the ingredients listed below, bring to a boil,
reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool in an ice bath, reserving the
cooking liquid, ingredients and snails. Store in plastic containers until ready
Snail Poaching Liquid:
2 cups water
2 cups red wine (Beaujolais is good for this)
1 cup mirepoix, chopped small
1 bay leaf (approximately 1" by 1")
1 tbsp. crushed black peppercorns tied in cheesecloth
2 sprigs of thyme, fresh if possible, or 1 tbsp. leaves
2 tbsp. chopped garlic cloves, not pre-chopped
1 tbsp. kosher salt
Soften the butter and scoop the snails out of the liquid to drain.
The procedure is almost the same for filling shells as it is for the cocotte.
Place about 2 tsp. of butter in the shell, then a drained snail (the round part
goes in first so the flat part is at the shell entrance) pushing it in slightly.
Seal the shell with 2-3 tsp. of butter. Repeat this process until the snails and
butter are all used.If using a cocotte, first add butter, then snail and top
with more butter. Use about the same amount of butter with the cocotte as with
the shells so you do not waste the butter.
Heat your oven to 450, place the snails in the shell on specially made dishes to
hold them upright (that is so the butter doesn't cook out of the shell). Or
attractively crumple a sheet of aluminum foil into a 6 inch circle with 6
indentations to hold the snail shells upright. Cook for 10-12 minutes; when hot
and bubbly, transfer to a serving plate and voila, they are ready to eat! In all
methods use a baking pan as an under-liner to prevent the butter from spilling
on the oven bottom and maybe causing a fire. The finished dish should be served
very hot, and sprinkled with a teaspoon of chopped chives for every 6 snails.
Serve with warm baguettes to sop up the juices and butter.