Escargot (ehs-kahr-GOH) is the French word for snail. This little mollusk is famously served baked in a shell with a bubbling sauce of garlic, shallots, parsley, and butter. As good as this sounds, there are other ways to utilize this humble mollusk. Use in a stir-fry with oyster sauce, soy sauce, red pepper. Or, toss in a wok with black bean sauce and Shaoxing rice wine. According to Smithsonian magazine, humans have been eating snails for roughly 30,000 years in the Mediterranean.
The new study looked into discarded snail shells found at human habitations in Spain, and the analysis has given scientists a good picture of how snails were cooked at different sites. If you’d like to try making escargot-à-la-Stone-Age, you’ll need to select snails that are older than a year. Then, you might roast the snails in their shells over charcoal embers made of pine or juniper, for 5 to 8 minutes at a temperature less than 707 degrees Fahrenheit. Another method mentioned in the paper, from sites in Algeria, involves setting the snails in a hearth pit between two layers of heated stones and letting them boil.
In Italy and Greece, snails are used in sauces and poured over various types of pasta such as saffron tagliarini with sorrel or in a herbed cream sauce. Hopefully, these suggestions will inspire you to make other dishes but for now, try my escargot stuffed mushrooms.
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
36 mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
1 can escargot (contains 36 to 42)
Preheat oven to 375f (190c)
Drain and rinse canned snails. Rinse again, drain and place escargot in a bowl then add a splash of Pernod.
For the stuffing
Mix breadcrumbs, chili pepper flakes, parsley, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and cheese. Add a splash of extra-virgin olive oil to the breadcrumb mixture to roughly hold together but not too moist.
Place mushrooms on a large baking tray. Add a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture to each mushroom. Fill each mushroom with a snail and top with breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow mushrooms to cool 5 minutes before serving.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Rinsing and draining the escargot will help remove any canned taste. Choose mushrooms that are large enough to hold a snail. Enjoy!