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Snails in Garlic Butter

Serves 4 (starter dish)

Ingredients

3/8 teaspoon table salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dry white wine
12 to 16 snails*
About 2 cups kosher salt (for stabilizing snail shells)
Special equipment: 12 to 16 sterilized escargot shells*

Accompaniment: French bread

Preparation

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

Using a heavy knife, mince and mash garlic to a paste with 1/8 teaspoon table salt.

Beat together butter, shallot, garlic paste, parsley, remaining 1/4 teaspoon table salt, and pepper in a small bowl with an electric mixer until combined well. Beat in wine until combined well.

Divide half of garlic butter among snail shells. Stuff 1 snail into each shell and top snails with remaining butter. Spread kosher salt in a shallow baking dish and nestle shells, butter sides up, in salt.

Bake snails until butter is melted and sizzling, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cooks’ notes:

The escargots can be prepared, but not baked, up to 30 minutes ahead and kept at room temperature until ready to bake.