Escargot (Snails)

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Escargot Culinary History

Discarded roasted snail shells found in archeological digs indicate that prehistoric humans enjoyed "escargot". Pliny described Fulvius Hirpinus' snail garden as having varied species of snails and feeding them on wine and cornmeal. Ancient Romans, and later, other Europeans ate snails during festivals, Lent, Mardi Gras and Carnival. There are edible land snails ranging in size from 1/4 inch to giant African snails growing up to 12 inches. The traditional escargot is the common garden-variety snail. Escargot (French for snail) are available fresh, chilled, canned, or frozen.

Traditional Escargot Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 7-oz can snails, rinsed
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Purée butter, garlic, parsley, and shallot in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Divide half the garlic butter among sterilized snail shells. Stuff with snails (1 per shell) and remaining garlic butter.

Buy Escargot

Escargot can be purchased cleaned, and canned (we sell them here at Gourmetsleuth.com).  Or, look for them in the gourmet section of well stocked grocery stores.  To use these you just need to rinse them.  Prepare your sauce, stuff the escargot in the shells and bake.

Sometimes you can find the escargot, prepared with the sauce, frozen.  All you do is put them in the little escargot dish and bake.  These are very convenient.  Again, look for these in gourmet specialty stores.  You may find them online as well but requires overnight shipping.

Escargot Tools

Part of the fun of cooking is getting all the related tools.  For this dish there are three traditional tools, the tongs, fork and baking dish.

Escargot Baking Dish

escargot plates

The escargot meat is stuffed in the shell, then packed with the butter mixture.  Place one stuffed shell in each indentation.  Then bake in the oven.  You can find these dishes (as well as the other tools) at most well-stocked kitchen stores or numerous online sites like Cooking.com.

Escargot Tongs

escargot tongs

Escargot tongs are used to pick the escargot shell up off the baking dish. To use the tongs, you squeeze the two handles together then  grasp the shell so that the snail meat is facing upward. 

Escargot Fork

 

escargot fork
 

This small fork (usually 6" - 7" long) has curved tines. You use the escargot fork to pick the meat from the shell.  You can also purchase seafood forks for this purpose.

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.