This dish is one of my personal favorites. It is meant to be an appetizer both because the way it is served there is not much volume to it and it really gets the appetite going with its intense flavors. That and if you eat enough to make a meal out of it you’ll end up eating a day’s worth of calories in one sitting. This is a dish I share with my younger son who shares my adventurous palette. It is my hope that when he moves out on his own he will love to cook as much as I do and start his epicurean journey at a much younger age than I.
Ok so this dish requires starting two days in advance. The first thing I do is get the snails in a bath of baking soda salt and cold water overnight.
It doesn’t matter where you get your snails but I can tell you that if you buy them alive they are a LOT more work. I like getting mine already stripped and cleaned. Your best source of these will be a good farmers market.
After sitting in the alkaline bath overnight, you will want to rinse the snails completely and then put them in a bath of court bullion (basically white wine and chicken broth).
Here is mine already in with some simple chicken broth and as usual, I buy my cooking wine in small bottles to avoid spoilage. I then cover them and let then sit for another day or two. After putting these in the fridge, I immediately start making my escargot butter.
Here I have some european style butter. Plugra works very well for this if you can get some. Most grocery stores will have it. Let the butter soften for most of the day. If it is still too firm, you can microwave it a little to get it even softer but do not melt it into a liquid. My own mix has two blocks of French butter and one block of Plugra. Now most of the butter I buy is unsalted for cooking use. I do not recommend you do that here because getting the salt measured right, dissolved and thoroughly blended can be trying. Besides, the salted butter has just the right amount of salt in it for this purpose.
For seasoning I only use whole black peppercorns that I grind at the time I plan to use them. Don’t use pre ground pepper.
And here I have some fresh green peppercorns for the same purpose.
And here they are ready to be ground up.
Freshly ground black and green peppercorns. The aroma is wonderful but only take in ambient scents. If you smell this directly you will be sneezing profusely about the place.
In goes the pepper!
A half cup of olive oil for more flavor.
2/3 cup of Pernod Anise liquor goes in. Not too much but I have found anything less than 2/3 cup and you won’t even notice it which would be a shame.
The pepper, oil and Pernod are blended in.
And here I have fresh shallots and garlic chopped for blending. Also not shown and I must apologize for that, are two dry measure cups of chopped fresh, washed parsley with stems removed.
And here is the final product. Beautiful green specked garlic butter with delicate licorice notes. You will want to scoop this out into containers and refrigerate it. It will be easier to work with that way. If you will be storing it for a while, you will want to freeze it.
On the day you plan to cook the snails, go ahead and place fresh spinach leaves into the snail divots. Use 2-3 stemless leaves per divot depending on the size of the leaves. Make little nests.
When you remove the snails from the court bullion, do not rinse them. Just pour out the court bullion and place the snails into the spinach beds in your escargot dishes.
And here is our escargot butter refrigerated and ready to measure. Note that this container was my overflow bin. I made so much it would not all fit in a 24 oz container. Using a table knife I slice out only as much as I need.
Snails are all snug in their spinach beds. The spinach will not overpower the flavor and adds a bit of character to the appetizer.
I put about 1 tablespoon of my compound butter in each divot atop the snails.
The dish is then finished with a generous 5 fingertip pinch of freshly microplane grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese. You do not want to use pre grated here. The difference in flavor is stark if you don’t.
Bake them at 450 degrees in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. When they are ready, serve them with a couple of slices of toasted French bread to soak up the butter left in the divots. You do NOT want to waste that!
My son gives it a taste. He absolutely loves this dish and the smell of this dish when it cooks is unmistakable. I don’t care where he is in the house, he drifts in like a cartoon character floating on aromas.
This is a great brunch food and really brings the family together on a cold day. You can serve it with soup or a salad if you want. I like serving it with some kind of open face sandwich. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do.
Without further ado, here is the recipe.
Pernod Butter Escargot (serves 1-2)
- 12 large or jumbo helix snails cleaned and purged
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 Tbs salt
- 24-36 medium to large spinach leaves
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 24 oz salted european style butter or Plugra.
- 2/3 cup Pernod anise liquer.
- 1/2 cup extra virgin love oil.
- 1 Tbs fresh ground black peppercorns.
- 1 Tbs fresh ground green peppercorns (use 2 Tbs black if you do not have green.
- 2 cups chopped, fresh parsley with stems removed.
- 12-15 garlic cloves chopped.
- 3 large shallots chopped.
- Rinse snails well.
- Mix the salt and baking soda with the water and add the snails. Store in refrigerator overnight in a covered, air tight container.
- Rinse snails thoroughly the morning after the baking soda soak.
- Mix the white wine and chicken stock (court bullion).
- Place snails in the court bullion in a covered, air tight container and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
- Put softened butter into a food processor and blend to soften further.
- Add ground pepper, garlic and shallots and blend well.
- Add olive oil and Pernod and blend well.
- Add chopper parsley and blend well.
- Remove compound butter from the food processor and put into our tight plastic containers and refrigerate.
- On the day you plan to eat, remove the snails and the compound butter from the refrigerator.
- Drain the snails.
- In two 6 divot escargot dishes, arrange stemless spinach leaves to form a nest in each divot.
- Put one snail in each spinach nested divot.
- Put 1 tablespoon of escargot butter atop each snail in the divots.
- Put a generous 5 fingertip pinch of fresh ground Parmesan cheese in each divot as topping.
- Bake both escargot crocks in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Serve with hot toasted french bread slices for soaking up the left over butter in the divots.