Snails cooked in a sauce of white wine, garlic, butter and parsley served in their shells. Said to have a similar consistency to mussels or clams, though I found them to be pretty rubbery. Perhaps best to try in a decent, reasonably priced restaurant rather than the satay version down a back street in H0ng K0ng.
The garlicky sauce in this dish is almost as delicious as the escargots themselves; it’s hard to think of a better use for crusty bread than sopping up this luxurious “snail butter.” But the main event is the escargots’ tender texture and clean, woodsy flavor. When we ran this recipe in 1949, it took a full day’s work, most of it cleaning and prepping the fresh snails. We found that canned snails work just as well and turn this appetizer into one that can be whipped up anytime.
If you thought eating snails was a recent invention in gourmet restaurants, well… they have been around for a lot longer. Shells found on archeological sites prove that snails were eaten in prehistoric times. Later the Greeks and Romans ate them too. During the middle-ages snails were bred in the convents in anticipation of food shortages. Burgundy Snails measure from 40 to 55 mm and weigh from 25 to 45g when adult. They are brown with white stripes. Burgundy snails are renowned throughout France for their quality and taste.
Snails thrive from the the springtime to the beginning of the winter, then they dig into into the soil and will spend the winter in a hole. In the wild, a snail can live 20 years if it can escape from the predators – and from us humans stepping on them. Snails are herbivores and must live on a calcium soil to make their shells. This explains why Burgundy snails are so popular in Burgundy, the geological structure of the land which suits Chardonnay wine so well also suits snails. What better way to serve snails than with a glass of Chablis?
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Using a heavy knife, mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/8 teaspoon table salt.
Beat together butter, shallot, garlic paste, parsley, remaining 1/4 teaspoon table salt, and pepper in a small bowl with an electric mixer until combined well. Beat in wine until combined well.
Divide half of garlic butter among snail shells. Stuff 1 snail into each shell and top snails with remaining butter. Spread kosher salt in a shallow baking dish and nestle shells, butter sides up, in salt.
Bake snails until butter is melted and sizzling, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately.
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