This is perhaps the most famous way of cooking snails. Burgundy is famous for its snails, which are raised and nurtured on the grape-vine leaves - the local inhabitants insist that this gives them a particularly delicious flavor. They are certainly very plump and juicy Roman snails. A good strong taste of garlic is vital in the dish, so don’t stint on it. It is redolent of rustic French cooking.
The technique for how to cook your snails from scratch and how to get them out of their shells is a basic one, suitable for most snail recipes.
Wash the snails in several changes of water. Remove the veils that close the openings, using a sharp pointed knife. Put the snails in a pan with the vinegar, coarse salt, and flour, and let them stand for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Wash the snails again and put them in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, skimming off any matter that comes to the surface. Simmer for 8 minutes, then drain well.
Bring 3 cups of the wine and the water to a boil in a pan and add the bouquet garni, carrots, onions, 1 shallot, 1 clove of garlic, and the peppercorns. Add the snails and cook, covered, over a very low heat for 3½ hours.
Make a mixture of the butter, remaining shallots and garlic, the parsley, and a seasoning of salt and pepper, blending it all together very thoroughly.
Drain the snails. Take each one out of the shell and cut off the little black filament at the end of the snail. Wash and dry the shells. Put a little of the butter mixture in each shell, then insert the snail and fill the shell with more of the butter mixture, pressing it down with your thumb. Sprinkle with a few fine bread crumbs.
Put the prepared snails in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Burgundy.
© 1999 Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright estate. All rights reserved.