Il pleut il mouille c’est la fête à la grenouille but it’s also la chasse aux escargots! When it rains the frogs come out but it’s also open snail season especially after thunder or early morning dew.
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In Languedoc, France it was a tradition to go snail picking after each rainfall where the snails would get stored in cages too fast for a few weeks before landing in the pan! Today this practice is regulated because the snail or gastropod became a protected species in 1979. Heliciculture or snail farming is the process of farming or raising snails specifically for human consumption is estimated at 30 000 tons per year with up to 1000 tons produced by French heliciculteurs.
It was in 1814 that the snail became a delicacy when Talleyrand, the diplomatic head under Louis XVIII, requested that his chef nicknamed the King of Chefs and Chef of Kings Marie-Antoine Carême prepare a dinner in honor of Tsar Alexander 1st of Russia. This is where the famous Escargots de Bourgogne à l’ail, et au persil was born! It has been since then an emblematic star recipe of French cuisine.
Today you don’t need to go snail picking, just make sure to purchase the best brand of Escargots de Bourgogne or Burgundy Snails in cans. You may also want to have the escargot plates with the tongs and of course the escargot shells for the authentic touch!
Making the famous Escargots de Bourgogne à l’ail, et au persil or Snails in Garlic–Herb Butter is pretty simple and you can find the recipe from Julia Child’s in “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup minced parsley
1 tbsp. white wine
1 tsp. cognac or French brandy
3 cloves minced garlic
1 minced shallot
salt & pepper to taste
24 extra-large snail shells
24 canned extra-large snails
and the French baguette for dipping into the beurre d’escargot!
- In a bowl, whisk together butter, parsley, wine, cognac, garlic, and shallots with a fork, salt & pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Heat oven to 400°
- Spoon about 1⁄2 tsp. of butter mixture into each snail shell, push snail into each shell and then ﬁll shells with remaining butter mixture.
- Bake snail shells butter side up until butter sizzles, about 10–12 minutes.
- Serve snails with baguette to soak up the butter
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