The year 2020 started with a bang as we gathered around the traditional “galette des rois”, therefore the Consulate’s chef starts February with a French specialty known to all of us!
On the menu today are snails or “cagouilles” as they are called in my native Charente region; a good occasion to put the spotlight on this beautiful region of France where I come from.
Interestingly enough, land snails, sea snails and freshwater snails are consumed in a number of countries across the world: it is therefore not only a French specialty. The species we will cook today is the garden snails.
In addition to Burgundy snails and other similar species raised in heliciculture and cooked in savory gastronomic cuisine, and to giant African snails produced commercially for their food, many other species of snails are a source of proteins for endless communities throughout the world.
Three species of the Hélix kind are ordinarily labelled as snails, notably in France:
The garden snail (Helix aspersa aspersa), cooked in more diverse and local recipes, measuring 28 to 35 mm (1,1 to 1,37 in) for an adult weight of 7 to 15 g (0,24 to 0,53 oz). It is especially endemic to Mediterranean countries (Europe and North Africa) and to the French Atlantic coast.
The garden snail (Helix aspersa maxima), ranging from 40 to 45 mm (1,5 to 1,77 in) for a weight of 20 to 30g (0,7 to 1 oz). It can be found in North America.
Helix pomatia, the authentic “Burgundy snail”, traditionally cooked in its shell with parsley butter, the “bourguignonne” way. With a size of 40 to 55mm (1,5 to 1,77 in) for an adult weight ranging between 25 to 45g (0,88 to 1,58 oz), it can be found in Central Europe.
Helix lucorum, imported from the Balkans or Turkey, often sold the “bourguignonne” way, which is not legally entitled to the “Bourgogne” label.
It is worth noting that in Rome, snails are eaten with mint-flavored tomato sauce. This particular recipe is called the ciumacata or lumache di San Giovanni.
Few know that snail eggs served with caviar are also a very popular dish.
Thank you all and I wish you a very pleasant meal!
- 100 adult snails
- 50g (1,7 oz) of Charentes butter
- 200 g (7 oz) of sausage meat
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 1 liter of white wine
- 1 glass of cognac
- 3 onions
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 carrot
- 2 tomatoes
- Thyme, bay leaf
- Salt, pepper
Wash the snails. Boil 2 liters of water (0,5 gallons)..
Dip the snails for 5 minutes in the boiling water while stirring. Take them out and rinse them with cold water.
Soften the sausage meat, the onion, the garlic, the carrots, the diced tomatoes in the butter. Put the thyme and bay leaves and season. Sprinkle the flour, stir up. Drench in the white wine and cognac.
Leave over low heat for 30 mns.
Add the snails. Cook over low heat for 45 mn.
Quoting Mr Charles Monselet, (30 April 1825, Nantes – 19 May 1888, Paris), I wish you all a very good appetite… See you soon in March!
Le bel art de la gastronomie est un art chaleureux. Il dépasse la barrière du langage, fait des amis parmi les gens civilisés et réchauffe le cœur.