How to cook Burgundy snail’s semi-finished delicacy

In warm areas of Europe, Burgundy snail or Helix pomatia is found everywhere. On forest and park paths, during cold or after rain, you can gather quite large number of these gastropods when having a short walk. Some people treat them as vermins or indifferently pass by, but literally there is a real delicacy at our feet. Snail’s meat is low-calorie one, and has high nutrition value. It is nourishing and is rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals, it’s considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac in some countries. And personally I don’t think it’s too right to miss opportunity of preparing semi-finished product from Burgundy snail’s meat for winter. However, too sensitive people as well as those who regard snails only as pets shouldn’t read this article further.

So in order to cook tasty and nourishing dish from Burgundy snails you first of all need to… gather them. You should gather snails in a densely closed container, as they aren’t supposed to sit quiet and will try to escape. There should be several openings so that nails won’t suffocate. After we have gathered them, you need to keep Burgundies in cool place starving for at least three days. This will help to release their stomachs from unnecessary, tasteless, and probably toxic for us waste products (as snail eat variety of herbs). Snails defecate a lot. I would say: A LOT. And at least once per day, you should wash container with snails and clean away their biowaste. It’s advisable to sprinkle water from a sprayer, so that their leg won’t dry up and they won’t run in hibernation.

In some sources one recommends to feed snails with kitchen herbs (celery, parsley, dill, basil green) at first and then starve them or cook at once. As if it is supposed to improve the taste of the product. I tried to do like that, but honestly speaking I didn’t notice any difference in taste, while it adds you enough troubles. So I advise you not to bother about feeding of snails.

Strictly speaking we’ll start cooking process in three days. We carefully place snails in sink, and wash off everything that has stuck to their shells. Note: you can cook only alive snails. If some snails died, throw them away. Don’t mix them up with those snails which fell asleep. If the snail hide in its shell, put it in a warm water. Alive snail will come out in some time, well, dead one surely – won’t. Meanwhile, there should be boiling a saucepan with water on your stove. There must be quite a lot of water, in volume about 2 times more, than the general amount of snails.

You’d better be in gloves to do cleaning of snails, as their slime is washed off rather difficult. When water in the saucepan boils, drop snails there. After being boiled leave it to cook for 2-3 minutes. In some recipes it is recommended to sprinkle alive snails with salt and leave them for 15 minutes, and after that to boil. To my mind this is a superfluous cruelty and absolutely unnecessary procedure.

After the snails are boiled for 3-5 minutes, we carefully take them out of the boiling water.

Now you need to take the snail’s body out of its shell. I simply pulled it for its leg with my fingers, if the body didn’t come I hooked it with a fork. If further you’re planning to cook snails in shells, be careful with them, as shells may be fragile.

We’ve got such heap of meat.

Now we need to separate eatable part from uneatable. Almost all sources recommend leaving only leg and I did so when I was taking photos for this article first time. I cut legs and I threw away the rests.

You get a lot of waste products, and the amount of healthy meat is really small. Further, I carefully unfolded part of the body which is in a shell (it’s rolled up in a spiral) and cut off about 1/3 from the end opposite to leg. The rest I cooked. I got the taste no worse than should be, and the amount of waste products decreased perceptibly. Such amount of meat I got from 50 snails.

Now we’re going to boil this meat. We pour water in a saucepan make it a little bit salty, put snail meat and herbs. We’ll be cooking in two waters, so accordingly prepare 2 tufts of herbs, or don’t add it this time. We boil it for about an hour on small fire. Then we pour the water off, take away the herbs if you put it and thoroughly wash slime out off our meat. It rolls up in lumps and is washed off well in salty water. Wash out as many times as it is necessary so that no slime is left.

When meat has become entirely clean, we cover it with water again, salt a little bit and put herbs to your taste. In my opinion dill and parsley combine with snail the best way. We cook it after it boils for about 1,5 hour.

Then we try. If the meat has become soft, it means that our high-protein and healthy semi-finished food from snails is ready. We take it out on a plate or either we cook it further or place it into a freezer for keeping.

What can be cooked out of this meat?

The simplest variant – is simply to fry it in butter with leek or onion (sliced in semi-ringlets) and small amount of ketchup. It may be served with mashed potatoes for garnish. If you want to cook something unusual and pompous looking, than take one more tuft of herbs, finely chop it and mix it with soft butter. Put a little butter with herbs in prepared shells, then – piece of snail meat and cover it with butter. Shells stuffed this way may be frozen. This is almost ready dish. When you’ll need to serve it you’ll put crumpled foil for baking on a baking sheet so that you’ll get little nests, where you’ll put stuffed shells with openings upwards, and you’ll take it to heated oven up to complete melting of butter. This dish is called “Burgundy snails”. They are served with fresh French bread and white wine. Snail meat is carefully taken out with a special skewers or common fork, put on piece of French bread and dip into melted butter from its shell. It is tasty, very rich and rather pretty.

How to prepare shells

If you are planning to cook Burgundy snails than don’t throw out the shells as you have taken out their bodies. Wash them in running water, put into a saucepan, cover with water and add couple of table-spoons of salt. Boil them for about half an hour and wash the slime off. Then dry them in a paper towel and stuff the way mentioned above.

That is actually all that I wanted to tell you about cooking of Burgundy snails. Yes, the whole process is a little bit long, but the taste and benefit of meat compensate costs more than enough. Not speaking about the fact that material costs are minimal and the ready semi-finished food in store is rather expensive.

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  1. Reonika 22 May 2014 :

    Snails are very tasty and nutritious. It is one of my favorite dishes ever. Have you ever tried to cook them with creamy garlic sauce? It is extremely delicious.

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