I have wanted to try Escargot for the longest time. I had so many questions and I finally got the opportunity for some hands on lab. First off, man are they off putting, to say the least, I won't even tell you the words that came to my mind to describe them, nor will I tell you what my family members thought they resembled. There were four of us willing to give them a try, my sister Bonnie. her husband Jackie, Bronwyn and myself. I was relieved that they are not slimy in the can. I can't say I enjoyed the smell at first though. These were the giant variety and they were about the size of an average sized meatball. They are quite firm and have good texture, with an almost rubbery undertone. I made sure that I cooked them gently, afraid of the potentially irreversible consequences of a tough protein such as this.
Traditionally, Escargot is prepared with a garlic, butter and parsley compound and broiled lightly to melt the delicious aromatics down into the shell, which are to be purchased separately. I failed to get my order for the shells in before our vacation departure and I figured I would scarcely find them for purchase in any of the supermarkets or shoppes near the lake, so I took them in a different direction. I wanted to come from this experience with something different and I think I achieved as much with this recipe.
To counter the almost scary appearance of the Escargot, I halved them, then sliced them into manageable pieces, hoping to capture the appetites of the naysayers. Next time, I will keep them whole and follow a more traditional route, preparing them in their I guess you would say intended form, for a more genuine experience.
This recipe is a good introduction to the world of Escargot, a once exclusive dish for the wealthy, now transgressed into a dish to be served on any given weeknight, full of delicious nuances and mystery.
Snails are not just your average exotic food, they also bring with them many nutritional benefits.
They are rich in protein, substantially so, providing about 18 grams per serving. The fat in Escargot, albeit small, is mostly polyunsaturated. Snails boasts essential fatty acids of the good variety, linolenic and linoleic acids, respectively, they lend brain and heart health benefits. There is a wealth of iron, magnesium and calcium, plus copper and phosphorus. Snails are a good alternative meat as well as a healthy one. They have vitamins A, B12 and K, where K is mostly found in the veggie department, particularly greens with leaves. Vitamin B6 and folate also have presence. If that weren't enough, Escargot has two amino acids that are also present in eggs, lysine and arginine, both in higher amounts than it's more familar round buddy! They are sustainable and have a much smaller impact on the environment than other animal proteins. Just a thought.
Add Escargots and gently warm through, while pasta cooks.
Once pasta is cooked, drain and transfer to saucepan with butter mixture and turn up to medium, add tomato and herbs, SPST, tossing until everything is coated and well incorporated.
Garnish with additional herbs and Parmesan cheese as desired.
Makes 6 to 10 servings.