Back in November I did a very silly thing. I had this Amazon gift card that had been sitting on my desk for months, and for the life of me I couldn’t decide what to get with it. This was mainly due to the fact that I felt very uncomfortable about the circumstances in which it came to be in m possession, so I could never figure out what exactly should I get. I immediately dismissed all things practical because that’s no fun, and so I was toying with adding a couple of books to my cookbook collection or maybe getting a heavier kettlebell.
Instead, I ended up getting a used copy of Galatoire’s cookbook that was in very good condition and a cast iron snail pan.
Let me back up a bit: over the summer, I spent one of my summer Fridays off wandering around town and took myself out to lunch at Thames Street Oyster House over in Fell’s Point. It’s a cute place with fantastic drinks and oysters, and that day I also ordered myself a plate of their snails. They were incredible and I immediately resolved to buy some canned snails of my own and make them myself. I started poking around on Amazon and saved a can of snails and some snail shells to my wishlist, and then promptly got distracted by other things instead.
Fast-forward to October and our New Orleans trip, and I ordered Galatoire’s Escargots Bordelaise as one of two appetizers because it sounded very good, and I was delighted when they came out piping hot in an adorable Staub pan:
They were buttery and garlicky and it took everything in me not to pick up the pan and slurp out every last morsel that was in the pan, mainly because I did not want to look like a heathen in the very proper and grown-up main dining room of one of New Orleans’s most rarified restaurants.
A few weeks later I was going through my wish list to see if there was any good Christmas present fodder, and seeing the canned snails I thought it would be a great idea to see if Amazon sold a snail pan. Of course they did, and they even had the Staub pan discounted from the rather ridiculous suggested retail price. I felt kind of odd in asking for it as a present, so instead I figured the perfect use of that gift card was to spend it on a small pan of limited utility that could take me back to New Orleans whenever I felt the inclination.
Of course I was really excited when the pan finally arrived, and decided to make myself some snails one night when Michael had to go to a family dinner that I couldn’t make because I had to go to work the next day. The recipe for Galatoire’s escargots is naturally right in the book, but does not include instructions on how to cook the things in a snail pan. (I guess they assumed that most people would not be like me and want to shell out money for a small cast-iron pan that has limited utility outside of cooking snails. Go figure.) A little more research gave me clarity on how long to cook them in the vessel, and I went to work.
Snails are essentially blank canvases, flavor-wise–since they don’t really taste like anything you can be really creative with what ingredients you add to it, but for this time around I wanted to keep it classic and simple and stuck to garlic, shallots, butter, and parsley. The snails first get cooked in a frying pan with some butter and shallots, and then you add them to the snail pan and cover each with a pat of compound butter made up of the garlic, parsley, and salt. This gets placed in the oven to let the butter melt and get piping hot, and then you serve them immediately, ideally with little snail forks that are also really useful when serving charcuterie.
Those who follow me on Instagram will know that I made these again as part of our inappropriate Super Bowl spread, and now that I have a handle on making them I’m definitely going to experiment with things like chili butter and pestos and maybe even some wine sauces, because why not? I don’t even have to order snails via Amazon anymore, because the Teet carries them in the canned seafood section which means if I’m feeling so inclined, I can make them any time I’d like.
Escargots à la Bordelaise
adapted from Galatoire’s Cookbook
Serves one; multiply as needed. I’ve actually done this with two snails in each insert and it worked well for two people.
- 6 canned snails, rinsed
- 1/2 shallot, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons parsley, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature plus one tablespoon of butter
- Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Make the herb butter: take the half-stick of butter and mash with the garlic and parsley and mix well to combine, seasoning with a little salt to taste.
In a small frying pan, heat the tablespoon of butter and add the shallots with a pinch of salt, and cook the shallots until translucent. Add the snails, cook until heated through, and then drain with the shallots on a plate to cool slightly.
Add the snails to the pan (one in each slot, but I’ve added two to double this recipe) along with the shallots, and then add a good dab or two of the herb butter on top of each of the inserts. Place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the butter is melted and delicious. Serve immediately on a trivet with small snail forks.