Swathed in herb and garlic butter, ready to slurp down with a glass of white Burgundy.
When I say escargot I mean the classic French preparation of snails that began in the vineyards of Burgundy, where snails fat from a summer and fall of furious and fairly constant snacking would set themselves to hibernate for the winter and instead get plucked from their hiding places under rocks and along bottom fences to be cooked up in their shells filled with plenty of garlic butter.
Note: You do not need shells to make escargot, but they are helpful. Jarred or canned snails sold with cleaned shells are the easiest way to go, but for those (un)lucky enough to have snail-infested gardens, know that you can capture and prepare them the old-fashioned way (see how to do it here). If like me, you’re in California, it’s important to know that California snails aren’t always all that big and their shells are often on the delicate side—especially compared to the farmed snails now used for commercial escargot, with their giant lime-strengthened shells—but it is possible to stuff them. If you’re not so into garlic butter, you can always make this snail salad with pancetta and watercress.
- 24 snails, de-shelled and de-slimed
- 24 snail shells (optional*)
- Rock salt (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 shallot
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat an oven to 375°F. Drain the snails, if needed. Set the shells in an escargot plate, if you’re lucky enough to own such an item. For the rest of us, set them in a small baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. You don’t want it too much bigger than all the shells because you want the melted butter to sort of stay with the snails, or in an escargot dish with individual wells for each snail. If they tip over too much, consider laying down a thin layer of rock salt to nestle them in so they stay steady.
- Peel and mince the garlic and the shallot. Mince the parsley. In a small bowl, mash the butter with the garlic, shallot, and parsley to form as smooth of a paste as you can (you can also do this in a food processor if you have a mini one). Add salt and pepper to taste (the amount of salt will depend on the salt level of your butter).
- Put a small amount of the butter in each shell, stuff in a snail, and top it all off with as much butter as you can stuff in the shell. Rearrange the shells as needed to keep them steady and bake until the butter is melted and the snails are tender, about 15 minutes.