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Escargots a la bourguignonne

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I recall reading recently that canned helix snails improve in texture and flavor if braised very slowly in advance. If so, what to braise them in? Snail butter? Can I then use that same butter for the final bake?


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post #2 of 16

Usually in equal amounts of water and white wine.

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post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
So the garlic butter is entirely different, then, right?


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post #4 of 16

A classic option is snails confits in duck fat. 

 

The escargots are already precooked right? Otherwise you'd have to first boil them for a while.

 

I like the idea of doing a confit in snail butter. Slowly poach in seasoned snail butter for about an hour. You can add alcohol to the snail butter, too, because why not. 

 

I'm sure baking with the same butter used for the confit is fine... I wonder if one could taste the difference between using fresh butter vs using the one used for the confit. If you have the patience, you could keep at least a little bit of fresh snail butter. Then later when the one you used for the confit is chilled, you can compare their tastes, see if you can tell the difference. But then again, to do a true taste, you'd have to then bake those two samples at high temp for a while....

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
See, the thing is, French Fries and I think alike. Okay, I promise I will try it both ways, or several, and see which is best.

Gonna be heartbreaking, though. I mean, we're going to have to taste-test all these subtle variations on escargots à la bourguignonne....


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post #6 of 16

I have not cooked snails since the 90's but remember them being cooked ahead in wine & water. Then stuffed and cooked under the salamander with garlic butter that had a bit of Pernod in it.

post #7 of 16

For escargots a la bourguignonne, @chefbuba, is spot on, although my recollections date from the 70's and from culinary school in the 80's.

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post #8 of 16

Bourguignonne screams wine stew to me, is that my imagination?

 

Well if you're looking for something a little different this is an excellent article and recipe for "stifado" and the origins of it.  It can be made with beef, chicken, octopus, rabbit, and it is also made with snails.  For the snails you do not need to marinate them, just skip to the recipe.  I've never used the orange in it but I might next time because it sounds so interesting.  This is a rich stew with tomatoes, wine, lots of onions, allspice and cinnamon.  

 

https://theshepherdandtheolivetree.com/2014/02/11/stifado-the-rustic-greek-stew-that-warmed-a-wet-winters-day/

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I did a passably careful experiment.

Front row, left to right: emulsified snail butter sauce in which snails braised 3 hours; emulsified snail butter sauce braised without snails 3 hours; fresh normal snail butter

Back row, left to right: snails braised in snail butter 3 hours, snails braised in water, white wine, and a dash of Pernod

 

These were then turned into 6 kinds of stuffed-shell snails:

1. Butter-braised snail, snail-braised butter

2. Butter-braised snail, plain braised butter

3. Butter-braised snail, traditional butter

4. Traditional braised snail, snail-braised butter

5. Traditional braised snail, plain braised butter

6. Traditional braised snail, traditional butter (classic escargots a la bourguignonne)

 

This is in order of preference. My family did not like traditional wine-Pernod-braised snails. They did not like the way traditional snail butter breaks. They liked the weird, woodsy flavor of snail butter in which snails had been braised. I liked them all, but I did think that the hint of anise clashed with the plain braised butter. Otherwise, I'm easy.

 

Note that the "emulsified snail butter" is not simply butter. To make it, I worked backwards, but it shouldn't make much difference which order you go.

 

Braising: put butter, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a heavy-duty zip-type bag. Seal tightly using the water-displacement technique (lower the bag slowly into water, letting the water pressure drive out the air, then seal). Cook sous vide at 140F for 2-3 hours. Snails may be placed in this from the start to make the snail-braised butter.

 

Emulsification: for every 100g butter, put 50g cold water, 1.75g agar, and 2.5g xanthan gum in a saucepan. Heat while whisking constantly, until it all dissolves completely. Cool to room temperature. Warm the butter so it is liquid. While blending the water solution with an immersion blender constantly, slowly pour in the warm butter. It will emulsify to a light hollandaise consistency.

 

I did emulsification first, then braising, but that was because I was doing other experiments; it should be a good deal easier to go the other way.

 

NOTE: Be very attentive to salt. I found that my emulsified butters weren't quite salty enough.

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post
 

Bourguignonne screams wine stew to me, is that my imagination?

It's not your imagination: you're thinking of things like boeuf bourguignon. But although escargots a la bourguignonne comes from Burgundy, the dish has little or no wine in it. However, it has been argued that the dish was perfected in Burgundy because they used the beautiful helix snails that try to eat the grape vines.

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post
 

I have not cooked snails since the 90's but remember them being cooked ahead in wine & water. Then stuffed and cooked under the salamander with garlic butter that had a bit of Pernod in it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post
 

For escargots a la bourguignonne, @chefbuba, is spot on, although my recollections date from the 70's and from culinary school in the 80's.

 

There's no need for that with canned snails which are pre-cooked - or do you braise them in water/wine again anyway just for flavor? I've done the entire process from the time you pick the snail (which is not always as easy as you may think, those little suckers can be quite stubborn and really stuck to, say, a tree for example) to the time you eat it. It's a lot of work, and may seem like it's not worth your time... unless you process thousands at a time and sell them...

 

For the classic escargots bourguignons....: First, escargots need to fast, away from the sun, then they need to be cleaned several times, purged (in boiling water, which par-cooks them), and cleaned again. The black bit needs to be removed. After that they are cooked in a 1:1 ratio of water:wine, carrot, onion, shallots, parsley/thyme/bay leaf/leek. 

 

Now when you buy canned escargot, all these processes have already been done! The snails were already braised in water (and hopefully some aromatics and some white wine, although probably not for most snails). So there's normally no reason to do it again. You just get the snails out o the can, into shells, stuff with the snail butter, in the oven, broil, done!

 

Now my understanding is that Chris wanted to improve their taste/texture before broiling them, hence the idea of confitting them in snail butter. But in general there should be no need to re-braise canned snails.

 

In fact Chris I was surprised to see that you compared butter-braised (I'd call it confitting) with broth-braised. I would personally have compared butter-braised with direct-from-the-can.

 

I am personally not a fan of pernod in my snail butter, but that's a personal preference. Not a huge fan of the anise taste here either. 

 

BTW Chris I'm surprised that people preferred the braised butter. I would have guessed otherwise. Before suggesting a test I would have said that fresh butter probably has a fresher taste, therefore better. But I've never had your braised butter so I cannot compare. Thanks for doing the taste test and posting your results!! Inspires me for my next batch. :)


Edited by French Fries - 10/15/16 at 8:37pm
post #12 of 16

No clarification needed. I am familiar with the methods used for fresh snails. The OP though was

Quote:
Escargots a la bourguignonne ...canned... what to braise them in?


those were the parameters I used in choosing my answer.

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post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
French Fries:

I was also very surprised by this reaction. The thing is, that emulsion produces something with a very fast flavor release. My 8-year-old daughter described the emulsion butters as "bright." The remarkable thing is that with pretty much the same ingredients, gram for gram, the traditional butter seemed like it needed a bit of something, a little help. The emulsions were spot on. All could have used a bit of salt, but it didn't matter much with the emulsions.

The emulsion cooked with snails in it was earthy and striking, sort of intensifying the whole snail thing. The traditional butter seemed more of a complement, while the snail-emulsion seemed to make the whole thing one totality. A different dish in many ways, but a very good one.


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post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
By the way, my wife wanted her snails in-braised, because she likes that pencil-eraser texture. smile.gif


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post #15 of 16

When I was in Bourgogne, the snails seemed to be commonly bought cooked in cans and then warmed up in shells with snail butter (garlic, shallot, parsley, salt, pepper, white wine, +/- Pernod)

post #16 of 16

 thanks to all of you for your helpful suggestions. It helped me a lot. :)

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