Anthony’s Tip for Making Escargot? Find the best, priciest, preferably French canned snails.
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Editor’s Note: Escargots have been considered a delicacy from as far back as ancient Rome, and for good reason. While the idea of eating snails, even fancy French snails, might seem strange at first, they have a rich, buttery flavor that appeals to audiences the world over. Escargots are popular in Spain and Portugal, but are perhaps most known as a part of French cuisine. This escargot recipe calls for canned snails, so there’s no need to hunt down any fresh ones, and makes for a sophisticated appetizer at any dinner party. If you had previously thought that preparing escargots would be an overly expensive and complicated endeavor, then you will definitely need to give this recipe a look — especially if you have a special occasion planned!
I could lie to you. I could tell you to use fresh snails, implying that we, of course, use only fresh ones at the restaurant. The truth? I don’t know any restaurant, have never in twenty-eight years seen any U.S. restaurant—no matter how good or prestigious—use fresh snails. Oh, a lot of them have snail shells, but they stuff them with snails out of a can. I’m sure someone uses fresh. Somewhere. But let’s face it, even if you could get fresh snails (and I would have no idea where to send you), by the time you’ve had a good look at the things in their living, natural glory, by the time you’ve dug them out of their shells for the first time…you’re likely not going to want to eat them. So do as the pros do: Find the best, priciest, preferably French canned snails (though the Taiwanese ones have been fooling the French chefs for years) and use those.
Cooking MethodBroiling, Sauteeing
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe CourseAppetizer, Hors D’oeuvre
Taste and TextureBubbly, Buttery, Chewy, Garlicky, Herby, Juicy, Rich, Salty, Savory, Umami
- 24 snails
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- ½ cup (110 ml) white wine
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and separated
- 1 ounce (28 g) flat parsley leaves
- 4 ounces (112 g) butter
- Salt and pepper
- 12 slices of baguette
- Small sauté pan
- Food processor
- Baking dish (if you’ve got shells)
- Another sauté pan (if you haven’t got shells)
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In the small sauté pan, combine the snails, shallot, and white wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then drain and set the snails aside. I know, I know—they’re ugly. But they’re good. Hang in there.
In the food processor, combine the garlic and parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add the butter and process until the mixture is a smooth, green paste. Season with salt and pepper.
If you have snail shells, place a snail in each shell and then stuff the remaining space inside with the parsley butter.
If you have the snails in shells, ready to go, simply preheat the oven to broil, place the snails in a baking dish, and broil until the butter is sizzling. Serve immediately with the bread.
If you have no shells, you can line a clean sauté pan with the baguette slices, add the parsley butter, and melt over high heat. When the butter is liquefied, add the snails. As soon as the butter is sizzling, remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Warning on Snails
It is a peculiar feature of snalls that occasionally they like to explode, spitting a boiling-hot, napalm-like mixture of snail fluid and molten butter at your face and genital region while cooking — and often in the moments after cooking. If you are accustomed to cooking while naked, I would strongly suggest covering strategic areas with an apron and keeping your face out of the way during the crucial time periods.
2004 Anthony Bourdain
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