Escargots – cooking some of our Sunshine Coast Snails from local grower, Glasshouse Gourmet Snails
I recently learnt from my friend and colleague, Petra Frieser, the Regional Foodie of our Sunshine Coast, that we have a couple of local growers on the Sunshine Coast, one being Glasshouse Gourmet Snails.
A week or so ago, Petra came to cook some of these escargots with me at On the Ridge. We had a fun day with these interesting creatures. Fortunately, they were already purged by the growers at Glasshouse Gourmet Snails, which was excellent. These Glasshouse Gourmet Snails looked so fresh and clean, with their inquisitive heads looking around with their antennas on the alert. Little did they know their fate!
We chose 3 sauces to cook with our snails – there are many variations to try. One we did not cook, is the most commonly known and a favourite with restaurants in France, escargots in garlic butter….which is simply a garlic paste made from softened butter and crushed garlic; herbs may be added as well. After you have prepared and poached the snails, put a small coffee spoon full of the sauce in the cleaned shells, then place a snail on top into each shell and then another spoonful of the garlic butter. Bake at 180ºC until the butter has melted and is browning on top. Serve with a small fork and teaspoon.
In France they use special escargot plates and tiny forks for poking the snails out of their shells, plus special tongs for holding the shells as you do so.
Snails have been introduced to various parts of the world by French immigrants, often with ill conceived dreams of snail farming and always with disastrous consequences. They have become quite a pest in some areas and trying to eradicate them can cost many millions of dollars every year. Until recently, only ducks, rats and Frenchmen wanted to eat them! Nowadays, the French cannot grow anywhere near as many snails as they eat so they import them in great quantity from countries more than happy to part with theirs!