It’s always interesting to learn about what other countries consider to be delicacies.
Take snails as an example.
When you see a snail in the garden, you’re probably not thinking about how tasty it could be. For most of us, snails seem a little bit disgusting. They’re slimy and slow, making them one of the last things you might want to put in your mouth.
But if you head to France, you’ll find they hold a much different opinion about snails. In the country, these slimy animals are considered a delicacy to the point where they’re served in almost all high-end restaurants. Just look for escargot on the menu and you’ve found them.
Now, we know what you’re thinking:
How on Earth could anybody eat snails?
As surprising as it may seem, escargot is a beautiful dish that is worthy of its place in any restaurant. But for it to be as tasty as the French know it is, escargot has to be prepared properly. That’s where this article comes in. We’re going to share a recipe for making escargot that will knock your socks off. And we’ll give you some great Italian wine combinations that give the dish an extra pop.
Before we get started with this recipe, we need to give credit to the people at Epicurious. This recipe comes from their website and has helped us to create some amazing escargot.
Better yet, their recipe is simple to follow and provides you with enough food to feed four people as a starter to a larger meal. Let’s jump into the ingredients list:
- Between 12 and 16 snails, which you can get from a can
- Enough sterilized escargot shells to fit the snails
- Half a cup of softened and unsalted butter
- One garlic clove
- Two cups of kosher salt
- A tablespoon of dry Italian white wine
- One and a half tablespoons of finely minced shallot
- 3/8 teaspoons of table salt
- A tablespoon of fresh flat-leaf parsley
- A quarter teaspoon of black pepper
It’s also a good idea to grab a stick of French bread to enjoy with your snails and add to the cultural experience.
Cooking your escargot is a simple process that you can handle quickly with a small amount of prep. These are the steps to follow.
Place your oven rack into the middle position to ensure even baking conditions. Then, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the oven is heating up, grab a heavy knife and use it to mince your garlic clove into a nice paste. Add an eighth of your table salt and mix it into the mince.
Add your butter, garlic paste, shallot, parsley, pepper, and remaining table salt into a bowl. Beat with a whisk or electric mixer until everything is combined. Once you have your whisked ingredients, add your white wine to the mix and beat again until everything is well combined.
After all of that beating, you should have a nice garlic butter. Take about half of it and divide that half among your escargot shells. Then, place a snail into each shell before covering the snails with the rest of the garlic butter.
You’re almost ready to cook. All you need to do before you bake the snails is spread your kosher salt into a shallow baking dish. Then, nestle the shells in the salt with their butter sides facing upward.
Pop the baking tray into the oven and leave until the butter melts and starts sizzling. This should take approximately five minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and serve your escargot immediately.
The Italian Wine Pairings
As you can see, cooking escargot is a pretty simple process. There’s nothing complicated going on with the ingredients or preparations. Plus, the actual cooking is over and done with in a matter of minutes.
Of course, this dish is intended to be an appetizer for a larger course, so it’s not going to take long to polish off your tasty escargot. But don’t go rushing into devouring them before you have an Italian wine to complement the dish.
The question is which wine should you choose?
Escargot tends to get overshadowed by most Italian red wines, which are too complex for the natural flavours of the snail. Even the richness of the melted butter isn’t enough to compete with most reds, meaning they’re usually out of the question.
Instead, you’re looking for a light and refreshing Italian white wine to go along with your tasty snack.
Perhaps the best wine to choose here is a Chardonnay. This is the traditional grape paired with escargot in France and there are plenty of examples of Italian Chardonnays that go extremely well with the dish too.
If you’re not a Chardonnay fan, a nice bottle of Sauvignon Black is another good choice. That’s especially the case if you want to alter this recipe by using a lemon sauce instead of a garlic one. In that case, the Sauvignon black manages to take the edge off the dish’s citrus flavours so you can get that perfect mixture of snail and sauce.
A Prosecco can also be a good choice, though you run the risk of overpowering the wine with the garlic sauce. Go for this option if you use less garlic than suggested in the recipe or if you make a sauce that doesn’t use garlic at all.
The Final Word
Escargot may not seem like the most appetizing dish in the world to those who haven’t been able to experience it. But as surprising as it may sound, baked snails make for an extremely tasty treat as long as you prepare them appropriately. And better yet, you don’t have to go wandering around your garden trying to catch snails because you can get them in a can.
All that’s left is to get your hands on the ingredients and a nice bottle of Italian wine to go with the dish. You can find the wine you want in the Xtrawine catalogue.
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