Garden Grazing: Escargots

| December 16, 2007 | 4 Comments
  • 4 Comments

Back when my plans for Christmas Eve crab were threatened by some dumb-ass humans, I decided to resurrect a Christmas Eve tradition from my childhood: snails. That’s right, people, I grew up a picky eater in Minnesota where I gagged on string beans, yet I ate snails.

There’s no explanation, but where my mom failed with wild rice, succatash, and scalloped potatoes, she succeeded with hot, buttery, garlicky gastropods. As much as my sister and I loved escargots, we never asked for it any time of the year other than Christmas Eve. It was tradition and we loved our Christmas Eve traditions.

We sat on the floor in front of the fire and ate our Christmas Eve dinner from the coffee table. We felt elegant, grown up, and quite worldly as we carefully applied the escargots pincers to the natural shells and pulled out the butter-soaked meats with tiny forks. Small and soft rounds of baguette were used to wipe the plates clean and stuffed into the shells to soak up every possible spot of garlic butter.

The Vander Weide Family’s Christmas Eve Escargots

1 can large snails
Natural shells (you can also use frozen pastry or phyllo shells)
1/4 lb. unsalted butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, chopped
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°

1. Pour off liquid from snails, rinse under cold, running water.

2. Combine butter with garlic, scallions, and salt. Smudge a small amount of butter inside each shell, stuff the snail in, and pack it in with more butter. Let snails chill overnight.

3. Put snails upright in a baking dish and bake on lower rack for about 25 minutes. Serve with baguette.

Last year, I revived the family escargots tradition and brought the sumptuous snails to a Christmas Eve party. However, instead of my mother’s traditional recipe, I used the one I discovered in my 1963 copy of Samuel Chamberlain’s Bouquet de France.

The squeamish didn’t partake, but those who did came back for seconds until there were no seconds left. The highest compliment I received came from a French guest who told me my escargots tasted exactly like the escargots she enjoys in Paris.

Escargots Maison from Bouquet de France

2 cans large snails
1 cup butter, softened
8 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch of grated nutmeg
6-8 blanched almonds, chopped and finely pounded

Preheat oven to 375°

1. Pour off liquid from snails, rinse under cold, running water.

2. Combine the butter, parsley, garlic, shallot, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and almonds. Smudge a small amount of butter inside each shell, stuff the snail in, and pack it in with more butter. Let snails chill overnight.

3. Put snails upright in a baking dish and bake on lower rack for about 25 minutes. Serve with baguette.

Serve either recipe with Champagne or a red wine from Burgundy.

Related

Related posts

Explore: , , , ,

Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink

About the Author ()

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED's Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED's Emmy-award winning show "Check, Please! Bay Area." Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater's Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called "hilarious" and "the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn't think he or she wants to read a popular science book." Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport
  • EB at www.spicedish.typepad.com

    We actually got these at birthday dinners at a local french restaurant we went to for EVERY birthday celebration in the family. I’d never thought about it but it looks like we had a snail tradition too!

  • cookiecrumb

    Should I??
    Eeee!
    I might.

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    Hey, cookiecrumb, I’ll bet you can get some good ones in your own happy backyard! Though, the might not big as the canned one which are eviscerated and cleaned no less than five times.

  • Anne C.

    Keckler, my cousin and I tried this last weekend. She got canned snails from France. They were pre-cooked, ’cause we only had to bake them for 6 minutes.
    Delicious! Thanks for pointing out this is a food you can make at home. :)