Friday, December 27, 2013


The starter course for our Christmas dinner was escargots de Bourgogne (Burgundy snails). We had them in the freezer, bought already prepared and ready for the oven. It was an easy way to have a nice starter without too much work.

Snails, bubbling hot, ready for eating! The pincer on the right holds the hot shell while you pull out the snail with a fork.

Unless you're really into raising and purging your own snails the old-fashioned way, frozen is the way to go. They're always available in the supermarkets with the garlic/butter/parsley sauce already incorporated in the little shell. Another way to buy them is canned; we have a can in our cupboard. With those, you make your own sauce and use your own shells (which are washable and re-usable). Of course, you don't need to use shells at all if you don't want to, but you will want a special snail plate.

They were delicious!

I'm sure some people are lucky enough to live near a snail producer and can get them fresh. Snails need to be purged before they're killed to clean out their digestive tracts. They're fed ground grains (like corn meal) for a few days to be made ready for consumption. The snails themselves are pretty bland, but the combination of butter, salt, parsley, and garlic in the sauce makes them quite tasty. And a little bit of french bread is good for soaking up any sauce left behind.


  1. I'll stick with the combination of butter, salt, parsley, and garlic and some French bread...
    snails have no taste and are rubbery!
    Like oysters... to me they are both YUCK foods!!
    There is a snail producer just north of Loches...
    he comes down here...
    doesn't he go North?

  2. I am glad to hear about the purging process. I have always tried not to think about the digestive tract of the snail ! Now I can completely relax and enjoy them.

  3. The sauce is very tasty and the snail plates are cute.

  4. I made mussels with snail butter for Christmas Eve dinner as a starter. I would have loved to do it with snails, but I wasn't sure that my audience would have been as enamored. But I will tell you, if you do not have snails available, and you can get mussels and like them, it is a fantastic substitute. :)

  5. Hmmmm Think I'll pass on this one.

  6. Snails correctly prepared are not rubbery. As for oysters, well, get real. I like the idea of cooking mussels in what is called snail butter.

  7. Nothing says "fetes de fin d'annee" like escargots de Bourgogne. I love them and introduced them to my son early on so he enjoys them too. A piece of portobello mushrooms (or any kind of mushrooms) could also be substituted for snails. Maybe "PETA" will shamefully go after restaurants serving snails, like they did with foie gras?

  8. Walt,
    With all due respect, I've never understood eating rubbery things (like snails and octopus) slathered in butter, and garlic sauce. I've tried octopus once and it was exactly as I thought, buttery garlic sauce on rubber bands. Ah well, I've never been accused of having TOO MUCH taste.

  9. I;ve been away, but I hope you had a splendid Christmas time and I hope 2014 is your best year yet.

  10. Walt, I had escargot prepared exactly this way in a restaurant in Victoria, BC many years ago. I can attest to your finding. They were delicious and not rubbery at all . . .

  11. Haven't had escargot in a very long time.

  12. tim, the snails we had were very tender, not rubbery at all. I'll have to look up the producer in Loches. We used to have a local snail vendor at the Saturday market, but he disappeared earlier this year.

    stuart, they're self-cleaning!

    evelyn, how can you go wrong with garlic and butter? :)

    angiemanzi, a very good idea!

    raybeard, you're allowed.

    nadege, I certainly hope not. I think they're wrong about foie gras.

    ron, I've enjoyed both. If they're prepared correctly, they shouldn't be rubbery at all. Octopus really needs to be thoroughly tenderized.

    michael, thanks! I enjoyed reading of your travels.

    mike, cool!

    starman, did you like them?

  13. I used to love snails and would have them every time we went to a certain restaurant. But then, one morning after having them, I was ill. I associated it with the snails, but it was really the onset of morning sickness as I was expecting our first baby. Even though my brain knows it was morning sickness, I haven't enjoyed snails on the rare occasions I've had them.

  14. Walt,
    You know the old "first impressions"? I tried the squid (or octopus) at the urging of the son of my former classmate who I was having lunch with. He said "You'll love them!" When he got his, he scarfed them down and was rapturous about how delicious they were. I tried those same batter fried, garlic butter slathered tentacles and all I tasted was batter fried, garlic utter slathered rubber bands. I'll never try them again.

  15. I've had snails when young and loved them. My father was French and introduced us to the finer things early on! I have to say...struggling with being a bit squeamish to try them again. Probably because I'm a farmer and see these slimy guys way too often!


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