Escargots À La Bourguignonne
À La Prochaine has been thinking about escargot quite a bit lately. I recently posted about my first time trying the dish, and the confidence it gave me to experiment with wonderful new food that might be otherwise outside of my existing comfortable gastronomy. A few weeks ago, I successfully attempted making escargot. I posted pictures all over social media. I danced around the kitchen and patted myself on the back for a job well done. It was an event. The escargot was delicious- so delicious that I decided I couldn’t possibly keep the small victory to myself. This was a huge culinary accomplishment. Hooray!
As a refresher, escargot is a traditional French dish, which involves baking snails in a butter sauce. The escargot absorbs the heavenly flavor of the butter sauce, and instant food utopia is achieved. Escargot is French for ‘snail’. Voila! The cuisine has been a staple in French culture since ancient times, primarily consumed during celebrations and festivals. These days it is commonly served as an everyday treat alongside a meal- an appetizer by American standards- you’ll be apt to find it on any menu throughout France. However, the delicacy is not readily available in the United States. Seemingly, many Americans are averse to snail consumption, or so I gather from endless conversations centered on the disbelief that I could possibly enjoy eating a mollusk. Since I do enjoy escargot, I thought learning to make it would be a fun challenge. This is the perfect introductory dish into the flavorful realm of French cuisine.
Although not the next Julia Child, I can put together a decent meal. However even as a devoted francophile, French cooking has been uncharted territory. The cuisine is so revered that the thought of preparing even the simplest French dish prompts a massive hive breakout. Alright- I make an incredible Soupe L’oignon (French onion soup), but that is the extent. Truthfully, even that has taken me years to master. I was nervous to attempt escargot, and more nervous to fail, as it would have been a huge blow to my French alter-ego. Yet, it had to be done.
Escargot- fancy French cuisine… complicated, right? Wrong. This couldn’t be easier. The hardest part is finding the snails, which I effortlessly managed to do through Amazon. For the fanatics, you can make it a regular part of your culinary repertoire with a subscription. Neat AND random! Surprisingly, the escargot meat is generally canned and sold separately from the shell. Either buy the can of snails, which on average has between 18-20 meaty critters, and then buy the bag of shells separately, or buy a package of both snails and shells, which I did, because it’s just easier. Escargot is a specialty food, so be prepared to spend a little more money. This is going to be slightly more expensive than a can of Chef Boyardee, but the beauty, flavor, and impressiveness alone will make the extra cash spent a secondary thought.
Now that we have our escargot, we’re ready to go! Are you ready to get cooking? You can do this! Here is my recipe, which is a combination of several recipes that I found on the internet:
Escargots À La Bourguignonne
1 Clove Garlic, Minced (Or more, to taste)
1 Shallot, Minced
1 TBSP Roughly Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
1 TBSP Dry White Wine (Or a little more, to taste)
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Cubed and Softened
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 Can Escargot, rinsed thoroughly and strained (18-20 pieces)
18-20 Escargot Shells, rinsed and dried
1 Baguette for accompaniment (Optional, but not really)
2 Cups Kosher Salt in baking pan (If you don’t have an escargot plate, this method is used to stabilize the shells.)
Put garlic, shallot, and parsley in a food processor. Puree. Put mixture in a mixing bowl, add butter, wine, salt, and pepper. Beat with mixer. Put mixture in refrigerator and chill for at least one hour.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400 °F.
Using an escargot plate, or baking pan prepared with the salt stabilizer (I did not try the pan with the salt as a stabilizer, so I cannot comment), start stuffing the escargot. Take a teaspoon of butter mixture and stuff in shell. Repeat with remaining shells. Then stuff snail into shell. Repeat with remaining snails and shells. Top stuffed escargot meat with remaining butter mixture. Don’t be afraid to cram the mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes when butter is sizzling. Remove. Cool for a few minutes. Serve and enjoy!
I didn’t know how this experiment would go, so while I bought the necessary escargot tongs and forks, I skipped the special plate. However, I did have a mini-muffin pan, which worked PERFECTLY. When you remove the escargots for serving, remember to pour the remaining butter sauce over the snails after. The butter sauce is imperative for the necessary baguette-dipping. Plus, it makes the shells glisten with buttery delight. Trust me on this one.
Again, I cannot express the simplicity of this recipe enough, and it is sure to impress at any social gathering. The only hurdle is that first touch of snail. In fact, upon opening the can, I was convinced the escargots were alive. In reality, the meat was merely expanding after being confined in its canned environment. I may or may not have screamed. Once I realized I was safe from a snail invasion, all was well. I ate like royalty that night, and now you can too!
I do hope you will consider giving escargots a try.
À la prochaine!