If you thought eating snails was a recent invention in gourmet restaurants, well… they have been around for a lot longer. Shells found on archeological sites prove that snails were eaten in prehistoric times. Later the Greeks and Romans ate them too. During the middle-ages snails were bred in the convents in anticipation of food shortages. Burgundy Snails measure from 40 to 55 mm and weigh from 25 to 45g when adult. They are brown with white stripes. Burgundy snails are renowned throughout France for their quality and taste.
Snails thrive from the the springtime to the beginning of the winter, then they dig into into the soil and will spend the winter in a hole. In the wild, a snail can live 20 years if it can escape from the predators – and from us humans stepping on them. Snails are herbivores and must live on a calcium soil to make their shells. This explains why Burgundy snails are so popular in Burgundy, the geological structure of the land which suits Chardonnay wine so well also suits snails. What better way to serve snails than with a glass of Chablis?
Escargots à la Bourguignonne
4 dozen cooked snails (from a tin or boiled into vegetable stock) and their shells
2 cloves of garlic
250 g butter (room temperature)
a small bouquet of parsley
salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 240 C° (position 8)
- Rinse and drain the escargots
- Pound the garlic and cut the shallots into very small pieces.
- Work in with the butter and parsley to obtain a “beurre d’escargots” paste
- Add salt and pepper
- first put some “beurre d’escargot” and a snail in each shell
- fill the shells with the rest of the “beurre d’escargot” and push firmly to seal
- heat for 7 to 10 min in the oven at 240 C° (until butter is frothing)
- serve straight away
Tip: if you don’t have the special escargot dish, you can spread some coarse salt on an oven dish as a bed to prop up the shells so that the butter side stays up.
Photo: CC by Eatingeast/Flickr