Issue 26

Escargot Aux Omaha

Escargot Aux Omaha

Snails are delicious. There is a reason the French cry tears of liqueur over them. They are high in protein and magnesium, and low in fat. Of course, that leanness all goes out the window when you slather them with butter and cheese, but just save up some calories and let her rip. An alternative would be a fennel, parsley, olive oil and walnut pesto (or adding grated lemon and bread crumbs, which would make it a gremolata.) I urge you to explore, but for the Midwest, we’re using good old Nebraska ingredients, except for the snails, but you can get them at a grocery store.

A canned snail is a lovely thing. There is no wrenching them from rocks, no “starving” or putting them to sleep, or anything else unpleasant. In Anthony Bourdain’s fabulous “Les Halles Cookbook” he allows, in his tradition of confidential restaurant info, that no chef he knows uses anything but canned snails, unless they live in France with a large mossy garden. He also warns that piping hot snails tend to explode like new potatoes in a microwave, even after taken out of the oven, and offers the advice to cover up appropriately.

M’s Pub, which I recently visited for my article, does some beautiful escargots, and there are many, many classic variations on what they serve. Their cheese of choice is Havarti (but not the sliced one in the deli section) and I would say that if you choose to use cheese, experiment with some good French bread slices, an oven and some cheeses that melt beautifully, not too sharp, and local. I like gruyere and Emmenthaler, but a local camembert is what I choose here. This can be an appetizer for a large group or a main course for two with a salad.

 

24 snails (two cans)

1 small package of medium-sized crimini or white mushrooms

¼ lb. (3 or 4 slices) smoked thick-cut bacon, diced

1 oz. or 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

½ cup of white wine or Pernod

1 minced shallot or tbsp. minced mild onion

2 minced tablespoons of chopped parsley

One head of garlic, crushed

Black pepper and salt to taste

2 tbsp. vegetable broth (or duck broth if you can make it)

2-3 oz. finely diced camembert cheese

French or Italian style bread slices to sop up the goodness

Ceramic ramekins or heat-proof bowls/Pyrex dishes

Baking tray to help support the smaller dishes

 

Sauté

In a small non-stick skillet on medium heat, render bacon until brown. Reduce heat. Drain off bacon fat; add 1 tablespoon butter, shallots, salt and pepper, mushrooms and snails. Sauté until shallot is done and pour in wine. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Preheat

Bring an oven to 350 and spray a non-stick spray into some ceramic ramekins. I usually divide the snails into two portions, but you could make this all in one dish (even cast iron works) or even smaller dishes.

Prepare

Smush or process the garlic, butter and parsley, and place snails with bacon and mushrooms into baking dishes. Place baking dishes onto a tray lined with parchment to prevent sliding. Pour in broth. Plop or spoon bits of butter on top of snails and mushrooms, and sprinkle on cheese. Place tray in oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and just browning. Allow to cool slightly—will be lava-hot when fresh from the oven.

Serve with slices of toasted bread.

Ann Summers

Ann Summers

Ann Summers is not a 40-umpthing-year old rock climber who got shut down in Boulder Canyon and drowned her failure in a microbrewery. She is neither a mother of two, a fan of Latin plant names nor a lover of fine Italian Grappa. You’ll not catch her shooting guns for fun or hollering like a redneck. She hates Shakespeare, and doesn’t call a certain fast food chain “The Scottish Restaurant.” She turns her nose up at organic yellow beets, eschews fresh oysters, and loathes chubby guinea pigs with Violent Femmes hairdos. She is also a dreadful liar


Tags assigned to this article:
CheeseEscargotomahaSnails

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