Whether you’re starting with a tin of snails or a batch of beloved shelled and poached garden vermin, this is the good bit.
25g (2 Tbsp) sea salt
5g (1 Tbsp) black pepper
100g garlic (crushed)
50g shallot (minced fine)
75-100g parsley (one bunch, no stems, chopped fine)
This is enough snail butter for 200 snails, with a few pats leftover for a steak or two later in the week. Start with room-temperature butter and a big mixing bowl. (Cheater’s Tip: While nobody is watching, cut the shallots into chunks and put them through your garlic press.) Add everything and mix well with a rubber spatula. Even now, the aroma is intoxicating. Refrigerate for at least an hour to facilitate handling.
In a stroke of genius on Saturday afternoon, I decided that assembly should be two of my medium snails per extra large shell. It worked brilliantly. The construction method is this:
empty shell + butter + snail + snail + butter
The first butter daub is a little less than a teaspoonful, administered at the end of your finger. Cram it in the shell, followed by two snails. The final butter daub is the equalizer; enough butter to completely fill the remaining volume, smoothed off at the opening with your thumb. Be Warned: this is a very enjoyable group activity, which may cause the participants to come down with a severe case of Wine Thirst.
Once again, the fully assembled escargot can be frozen at this stage, provided you haven’t frozen them twice already.
Escargot can be stuffed into mushroom caps just as easily, although there’s less room for butter, so adjust accordingly.
Trays go into the oven at 450°F for 10-12 minutes. The baking tray underneath is essential for keeping the delicious hot buttered snails from burning the house down and earning a stupid headline in one of the free dailies.
“Revenge Served Hot. Too Hot.”
Eating a huge meal of nothing but snails, garlic butter and crusty bread is great, but a nice salad makes it better. And after all, this all started as a way to ensure pest-free growth of yummy potted greens.
Snail Memorial Salad
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Blend the above until smooth, and serve over a mountain of young spinach, arugula, mustard greens, watercress and basil.
It’s what the snails would have wanted.