Happy New Year to all, I hope you had a wonderful time and the transition back to reality isn’t too painful. For us we had the pleasure of spending Christmas and New Year with a wonderful family of expat Kiwis who now live in the Basque region of France. We had so much fun playing with traditional French cuisine in the glorious setting of Waihi beach that I thought I’d share this recipe with you.
Now I know what you’re thinking, I too used to view snails on a dinner plate with squinty-eyed skepticism – for all the usual reasons I suppose – their sliminess, their squelchyness, the havoc they wreck in the garden. So it would be safe to say that I was no great fan of the snail in any way, shape, form or location up until reluctantly trying them in France in a delightful country bistro many years, when I experienced a minor gastronomic epiphany.
They don’t have to be slimy rubber bands slathered in butter and garlic, they can be exquisite, delicate and exciting. Now the snails that we ate over the festive season were of the precooked, in a jar variety. Which is always a bit of a risk but got me thinking about New Zealand and with a bit of research, I can’t find anyone that is organically farming them here, except for Silver Trail Snails in the Hawkes Bay who have sadly recently stopped.
So what to do, should we just forget about a piece of culinary genius or should we expand our minds and shock our friends by trying something different, I think you already know my answer to this, and who knows we might even encourage someone to start farming them.
Escargot a la Bourguignonne
½ L white wine
½ L chicken Stock
Large Bouquet Garni
Pinch of salt
50 shelled snails
50 snail shells
4 tablespoon soda
4 L water
Buerre de Escargot
35g shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped Parsley
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
350g butter, softened
large pinch of salt
freshly ground Pepper
Simmer the shelled snails in the cooking liquor for about 8 minutes then leave to cool in the cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, boil the empty shells in the water and soda for five minutes, drain and wash in plenty of clean water, then dry in the oven without letting them colour.
Mix all the butter ingredients and pop a small amount in each shell, then add a snail and a little more butter on top. Place on snail plates or an oven tray covered in rock salt (to hold them upright) and heat in the oven without letting the butter brown and serve piping hot.
If you are using precooked canned snails then cut the simmering stage
For me a good complex Chardonnay hits the mark here, Try the Octopus Label 2011 Wild Chardonnay from Karikari Estate Wines, the most northerly vineyard in New Zealand.