Friday, December 5, 2014

E is for Escargots

French Village Diaries advent calendar Snails Escargot food France
French Food Alphabet Advent Calendar


Welcome to my French Food Alphabet Advent Calendar. Between now and Christmas Day I will be working my way through a selection of delicious food posts; some will be regional specialities, some are my personal favourite foods, some posts will include recipes, but all will be linked to French food and drink. I hope you enjoy your virtual tastings.

It’s the 5th December and E is for Escargots.

Our neighbours, Pierrette and Dominique, are often to be seen collecting snails (escargots) from the hedgerows after a damp night and as I have expressed an interest in their catch they now bring over a little dish of ready to eat snails every once in a while. Snails may be a free, foraged food, but there is quite a bit of preparation involved. Here is how Pierrette prepares them:

Ingredients
Snails, alive, but not fresh from the garden as they must spend a month or two in a cage with no food or water before being ready to cook.
1 sliced grey shallot
Pork rillettes (similar to a rich pâté)
1 onion
a handful of cloves
Garlic, thyme, bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Butter
White wine

First sauté the grey shallot in butter until soft, then add some pork rillettes for flavour. Peel the onion, but leave whole and stud it with a handful of cloves, then add the garlic, thyme, two bay leaves and the snails. Season with salt and pepper and simmer in the white wine. This is not a recipe to try if you are in a rush as on day one you cook the snails for at least three hours and then leave to cool. This allows the snails to infuse all the flavours. Repeat this on day two and then on day three, reheat and eat. I can assure you that despite the effort, they are delicious.

If you have missed my previous advent posts you can catch up by clicking on the letters A, B, C and D. Don’t forget to pop back tomorrow for the letter F, something France has a great selection of.