Yesterday, I described the process of collecting and cleaning wild Milk Snails, an invasive species in Southern California. Today, I want to share the recipe I used to cook them.
After desliming and rinsing the escargots, it’s time to remove them from their shells. The first thing to do is to cook them slightly, which loosens the body from the shell.
Pop them into a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let them simmer for ten minutes. The water will foam like crazy.
Traditionally, escargots are replaced into their shells after they are cooked. I found that the shells on these snails were too thin, and broke as I was working with them. Considering this, I cracked the shells to remove the snails, instead of fiddling with a shell I wasn’t going to reuse anyway.
Once you break a small hole, you can jackknife your way around with a fork to break it open. Once you can grab the body, pull it out. The tip of the spiral will break off as you pull, which is fine because it contains the gonads.
You end up with:
The part you eat……………………………………………..and the part you don’t eat.
After cracking all of the shells, I had a nice plate of escargots, ready to cook.
Along with oregano, garlic, salt, and butter, I added the snails to a pan, and covered them with water. I put on a lid, and let them simmer for four hours, adding water to replace what was lost to evaporation. It’s OK if it boils down a bit, this concentrates the flavor. Simmering for this long solves the toughness issue that molluscs have as a rule. The saying goes: cook them for a few seconds, or a few hours. Anything in between is rubber.
In an oven-safe skillet, I placed a bunch of mushroom caps, ready to be stuffed. Not wanting to waste any, I added the stalks to the side of the pan.
Put two or more snails into each cap, depending on how many you can fit. Add some butter, and broil on high for a few minutes to get the mushrooms cooking.
Put some cheese on the escargots, and broil them again to melt the cheese. Once the cheese has melted, add the escargot broth into the pan, place it on a burner, and heat everything up (My broth had cooled during the last few steps).
You’re done! Enjoy!
This recipe was quite good, but I would make a few changes. Firstly, I would add more spices to the broth, to add complexity. I think wine would help the flavor as well. Secondly, I would either thicken the broth after the escargots were cooked, or boil it down to make a sauce. Again, a white wine reduction sounds awesome. Lastly, I would cook the mushrooms more before stuffing them.
All in all, a successful experiment. Like all new things, it needs fine-tuning, but the potential is definitely there, and worth trying again.
~The Homesteading Hippy