Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lunch ?

On our Sunday walk this afternoon following last nights and this mornings rain we came across quite a few large white snails (Helix pomatia) on the woodland paths.

This species is frequently farmed, and is called by the French name escargot when it is used in cooking.

This recipe description is taken from "The Art of British Cooking", by Theodora Fitzgibbon (no longer in print). The recipe itself is by Paul Leyton (1914-1998)

When ready to be prepared the snails (at least 1-1 1/2 dozen per person) should be immersed in water to which about 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon has been added. After about 6 hours add 2 more tablespoons of salt, and after another 6, or overnight, a further 2 more.
The snails should remain immersed for 24-36 hours, after which they should be drained, and all the snails will be dead. The lid must be kept on all the time, and any snails which have crawled up the sides must be put back in the brine.
Two large saucepans must now be prepared half full with boiling water (about 2-3 pints), and the snails put in for about 5 minutes, first in one saucepan, with a tablespoon salt, and then in the other, during which time the water must be boiling furiously. This serves to clean the snails, and the reason for the two saucepans is that one serves as the wash and the other as the rinse. The snails should be drained and rinsed under the tap for a minute or two. Now the snails are ready to be finally simmered and served with their sauce.
For the Court Bouillon
  • 2 pints water
  • 1 pint dry draught cider or dry white whine
  • 2 bay
  • sprig of tarragon
  • 3 small sliced onions
  • 3 small sliced carrots
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • pepper and salt 
For the sauce
  • 1/2 lb. butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each dill, fennel, chervil, chives, lemon balm, finely chopped.
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon thyme finely chopped. 

  • Instructions
    For the court bouillon bring all ingredients to the boil, add the snails and simmer slowly for 4 hours. Then remove the snails and cool, mouth down, on a wire rack.
    For the sauce all ingredients should be beaten together and gently warmed. To fill snails with sauce, the snail is held in the left hand and nearly pulled out of its shell, the sauce is then forced into the shell with a small spoon. When full the snail is pressed back into the shell, and the snails put mouth up until the sauce sets.
    To serve they are put on to a snail plate and put either into a hot oven for a few minutes to heat through, or under a hot grill to get sizzling hot. They are served with thinly sliced brown bread and butter.
    The recipe should, once and for all, squash the legend that the English don't take time and trouble with their cooking!

  • Bon Apetit

    Unfortunately we did not find the two dozen snails required so have not been able to try the recipe.

    1 comment:

    GaynorB said...

    I have a preserved specimin of a very large Helix pomatia at school which we were examining on Friday. I don't think I could eat it!

    I'm off to northern France tomorrow, with 46 Y8 pupils. They will be offered snails and frog's legs during the week, but nothing as big as the jar specimins. Thank goodness..........