Love them or hate them.
Escargots are a true delicacy!
Do you like escargots?
Have you ever tried them before?
We are fond of these little meaty bites.
But what are escargots exactly?
Well escargot is the French name for edible land snails.
Yes, land snails.
Land snails vs. sea snails
Are there other snails then?
Sure, sea snails.
In Europe the most popular edible sea snails are mainly whelks and periwinkles, or bigorneaux in French.
But in Asia you will find loads of them.
In all different shapes, colors and forms.
And they are good as well!
So is our escargot land snail here actually seafood, or meat?
We will find out a little later on in this post.
What do escargots taste like?
We get that question a lot.
And to be honest, it is quite hard to really put a finger on it.
There is not really another type of protein that you can easily compare it with. Texture wise escargots are a bit like clams. And flavor wise, that’s a tough one.
With a little sweet earthiness?
How to cook escargots
Cooking escargots and snails in general is very easy.
These little things don’t need a lot of time to cook, on the contrary even.
Perhaps the most popular escargot recipe, and one you might have heard of before, is “escargots à la bourguignonne” or Burgundy style snails.
But what is it exactly?
Escargots à la bourguignonne
All you need for this recipe are snails, butter, garlic, parsley and salt.
Yes, simply snails in garlic herb butter!
And a highly delicious one.
At our favorite escargot shop here in Belgium, you can also get escargots with red compound butter. It contains paprika, curry and cayenne pepper. And no, it is not too overpowering.
All sound really great, but how to prep snails for a recipe like that?
Well a lot of recipes online will ask for canned cooked snails.
And will tell you to buy empty snail shells, which you can find in a French supermarket or deli.
Simply stuff them with one cooked snail, cover with plenty of garlic butter and bake them in the oven.
That is how a lot of recipes go.
Sure you can also buy them frozen, ready to pop into a hot oven.
What if you can find canned cooked snails but no frozen escargots nor empty snail shells?
Use white mushrooms instead.
Remove the stems and stuff them with a snail and garlic butter.
Bake them in a hot oven, easy!
How to prep fresh snails for cooking
You can buy fresh snails at a snail farm.
In some countries (especially around the mediterranean) you will even find fresh land snails on farmers markets.
Quite a lot of blogs advise against prepping and using fresh snails.
Just because it is quite a time consuming thing to do.
Most bloggers use the method I mentioned before: stuff canned cooked snails and garlic herb butter in empty clean shells.
But aren’t you curious to know anyway?
Because it is not just a matter of picking a fatty fresh live snail, smother it in garlic butter and oven bake it.
Let’s see how to prep fresh snails so that they are ready for consumption!
This is the method our favorite snail farmer uses to make his signature garlic butter escargots à la bourguignonne.
- Pick the fattest escargots.
- Keep the snails in a container covered with a kitchen towel at room temperature without food for 2 to 3 days. It is called purging to make sure that their digestive tracts are empty. Rinse the snails a few times during this period to remove the dirt.
- Rinse one last time in a bowl of water. Snails that are floating on the surface are dead, remove them.
- Strain and put the snails in the fridge. That will sedate them, make them go to sleep.
- Poach the snails in gently boiling salted water for 5 minutes, make sure it is not piping hot.
- Strain the snails and let them cool off.
- With a sharp knife remove the tough little foot that covers the shell entrance and sticks to the snail.
- Stuff the shells with garlic butter… and they are ready to go in the oven!
Some snail farmers or chef will remove the cooked snail from their shell and get rid of the darker liver part that can have a gritty texture if the snail hasn’t been purged long enough. After that the snail goes back into the shell to be covered with garlic butter.
Now you know how to prepare those fatty snails in your garden!
Strange though, people use all types of methods to get rid of snails.
But then they will pay good money for a portion of garlic butter escargots at a restaurant.
Can you use your own garden snails to cook with?
Now you know how to do it.
What other dishes can you make with escargots?
Soups and stews
We immediately have to think of a snail dish we ate in Spain.
It was based on a Spanish classic called fabada asturiana, a rich white bean stew that contains chorizo, pancetta and blood sausage. However instead of blood sausage it had snails in it.
What an epic stew that was!
In Belgium you will come across snails in a spicy soup with celery and lots of pepper. However this soup is made with sea snails (whelks).
We were in Crete, a Greek island a couple of years ago.
There we would often see snails on the menu: simply roasted in the oven with thyme.
Is escargot seafood?
Let’s get back to that question we asked in the beginning of this post.
Is escargot seafood or is it shellfish?
Escargots are molluscs and related to sea snails.
However they are not classified as seafood. And neither do they fit the definition of meat or any other type of protein.
Do you know what they are exactly?
Are escargots healthy?
Is escargot good for you?
Good question again.
And the answer is yes.
Escargots are a good source of protein. They are also carb free and sugar free.
Escargots are packed with vitamins such as iron and magnesium.
How about you?
Have you ever tried escargots?
What is your favorite way to eat them?
Let us know in the comments below.
We’d love to hear from you!