Sautéed snails & hazelnuts on chorizo mash

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Preparation info

  • For

    6

    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

The first time I ate a snail, I have to say, was almost my last. My 3rd and 4th Form French teacher, Miss Dunsmuir, had returned from New Caledonia, I think it was, and had brought back some French goodies for our class to try. One of the goodies was a tin of snails. She lined us up and made us all eat one - cold, from the tin, with no other flavouring. I have to say that I’d always imagined my first snail would be served with sizzling garlic and parsley butter and be somewhat romantic! This was like a blind date with an elephant seal. Twenty years later, I bought a can of snails and cooked them in sizzling butter with garlic and parsley and whilst they were a marked improvement, I still felt they were just a bit too much like... well... muddy-tasting, chewy pellets. A few years later I was in Caceres in Spain, and I was served a tapa of what appeared to be cold mashed potato mixed with minced chorizo. It wasn’t even vaguely tasty, although I knew if it were served hot it would have been much better, but I suddenly remembered those snails and realised that they would be the perfect match. So here it is, the dish which for me justifies snails, and a dish that’s been incredibly popular on our menu at the restaurant.

Ingredients

  • 500 g boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 200 g cooking chorizo sausage
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • a good pinch of cumin seeds
  • 30 g butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 48 snails, briefly rinsed under cold water then drained
  • 60 g hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) black vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 100 ml reduced roast-chicken, veal or pork stock
  • a few sprigs of flat parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked, then drain and mash. While they’re cooking, peel the chorizo and chop it into chunks. Heat up a pan and add the oil, chorizo and cumin and cook over a lowish heat, stirring often, so as to render fat from the chorizo and cook it through - it will start to stick a little, so just keep giving it a good stir. Once it’s cooked and the potatoes are mashed, mix them together, taste for seasoning, then keep warm.

Heat up a wide frying-pan or pot over a moderate-high heat and add the butter. Cook it until it turns a nut-brown colour then add the garlic and cook that until it turns golden, stirring all the time. Add the drained snails and the hazelnuts and keep cooking for 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the vinegar and boil to evaporate most of it, then add the stock and cook over high heat until it thickens.

To Serve

Taste the snails for seasoning then stir in the parsley and serve immediately atop the chorizo mash.