Someone once told me a story about the beginnings of the posh little delicacy called escargot. After the French Revolution, two Parisian chefs wanted to introduce something new to their menu that would intrigue tourists and subsequently make extra cash. When translated from French, escargot actually means dirty slimy bag on the ground. French may be sneaky but also incredibly creative. And when enveloped in rich garlicky butter sauce or wrapped in a steaming puff pastry, rich cream, butter and white wine sauce, the dirty slimy bags on the ground, surely transform into blissful mouthfuls of pleasure. The story also goes to say that the original escargots were picked up from the dirty streets of Paris in the rain, at the doorstep of the restaurant where the two chefs worked. They brought them to their kitchen and the rest is history. Whether the story is true or not, good news for us is that we don't have to go snail picking or experiment in order to make them edible. There are so many incredible escargot recipes out there. The only prerequisite is to be adventurous enough to try them in the first place.
If you are, this recipe will make you fall in love with escargots, unless your love affair with snails has begun a while ago. If that's the case, then expect the spark to be rekindled. Delicate shells of escargots oozing with buttery mixture of garlic, parsley, white wine, shallots and brandy. Spiced with a touch of warm, spicy nutmeg, all immersing the tantalizing, fibrous snail in a warm bath of velvety deliciousness. I like serving it with lemon wedges and slices of baguette. It is that perfect appetizer that will intrigue your guests' taste pallets and get them excited about the next course. Here is the challenge though - try to come up with something even more memorable than your appetizer. If you don't, all your company will talk about is your escargots. On the flip side, one unforgettable dish is a great success and the gift of love (new or rekindled) is priceless.
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened,
1⁄4 cup minced ﬂat-leaf parsley,
1 tbsp. white wine,
1 tsp. cognac or French brandy,
3 cloves garlic, minced,
1 shallot, minced,
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and nutmeg, to taste,
24 extra-large snail shells, 24 canned extra-large snails,
aguette, for serving.
In a bowl, whisk together butter, parsley, wine, cognac, garlic, and shallots with a fork. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to let the ﬂavours meld.
Heat oven to 400°. Spoon about 1⁄2 tsp. of butter mixture into each snail shell. Push a snail into each shell; ﬁll shells with remaining butter mixture. Cover bottom of a baking pan with a layer of rock salt. Arrange snail shells butter side up on bed of salt and bake until butter sizzles, 10–12 minutes.