The Portuguese eat a lot of snails, and this is a fairly simple recipe. The Portuguese chili sauce, piri piri, replaces the chili of the Spanish dish, and oregano and bay leaf give it a particular flavor all of its own. This is another very good party dish to be put in the middle of the table. You remove the snails from the shells rather in the manner that one eats periwinkles.
Wash the snails in several changes of water until all the slime has completely disappeared. Place in a large pan and cover with water to come 1½ inches above the snails. Add the olive oil, oregano, bay leaf, garlic, onion, some salt and pepper, and the piri piri. Simmer over a low heat for 2-3 hours (the snails should be cooked slowly to make them emerge from the shells). Keep removing any scum that forms on the surface.
Serve hot on small plates with some of the broth used to cook them. Eat with toothpicks.
© 1999 Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright estate. All rights reserved.