No those aren’t anemic meatballs, they are snails and they don’t make for a sexy picture. I’m sure if I had stuffed them back in to those decorative shells or scattered some parsley around it might look better, this is the ugly but delicious reality.
Escargot are really quite cheap and very easy to make. I guarantee you will impress all of your friends with your gourmand savvy and Francophilia. The snails are found in a can at the grocery store. Most grocery stores carry them, they are in the supermarket Siberia with the anchovies and sardines teetering way above the tuna fish. They usually cost about $5 for a can of 2 dozen.
Warning - they don’t smell so great when you open the can. Once, after I had just cracked open a can, Jim’s daughter flitted through the kitchen and blithely asked ‘Who tooted?‘ And the dogs always swarm my feet in anticipation, I’m not sure if it’s the can opener or the aroma. They also are not the most attractive looking morsel, they are snails after all.
As for presentation you could mess around with the shells and tongs but mine was an economic decision and really it’s the same thing just in a different wrapper. I got these snail dishes for about $5 a piece at the Cook’s Warehouse. I also put two snails per divot so all 24 snails fit in the two dishes pictured. I put them in the center of the table and everyone shares.
My recipe is adapted from, yet again, Thomas Keller. I, of course, add more booze to the recipe. I also feel you can stretch the recipe further than he suggests, the butter is enough for 4 dozen snails, or two cans. So I will use half and freeze the leftover snail butter and, like last night, in an instant make our house in to a bistro simply by defrosting the butter and opening one of the cans of snails in our pantry. Unexpected company? Snails anyone? I have no sympathy for the snail squeamish, you are missing out, and you’re kind of being a baby.
Escargot - Adapted from Thomas Keller - Serves 4-8 as an appetizer
1 can 2 dozen snails
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1/2 cup Italian parsley
2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Pernod
Open the can of snails, drain and rinse under cold water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, put snails in water for 1 minute, the water will just have returned to a boil. Remove snails, drain and rinse again.
Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor and hit ‘on’, turn ‘off’ when fully incorporated. Preheat oven to 450. Place snails in snail shells or in a snail dish or really oven proof ramekins, top each snail with 1-2 teaspoons of snail butter. Place in the oven for 7 minutes, remove, let cool for about 3 minutes before serving. It’s that easy.