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Preparing Live Snails Recipe
Preparing Live Snails
Jean-Michel Lorain, La Côte St-Jacques, Bourgogne, France
Jean-Michel Lorain, La Côte St-Jacques, Bourgogne, France
Flavors of Burgundy
Total time: more than 2 hours

Prep. time: 2 hours + 1 week
Cooking time: 12 hours

Difficulty: Average
Chef's Note
Most people don't realize how much work is involved in preparing snails. They usually buy them in cans, frozen, or fresh with the shells removed. When we get live snails in our kitchen, we first put them on an eight-day fast. Then we place them into salt so they disgorge all their impurities. One this is done, we mix them with salt and rinse off everything that has come out of them. We then scald them - we don't blanch them too long or they become tough - then we drain them and take them out of their shells. We separate the edible sections from the parts that have to be removed, like the intestines, and finally we cook them very gently in a well-seasoned flavourful broth, with carrots, onions, a large bouquet garni, a touch of garlic, celery and leeks.

They have to be cooked very slowly, because if the liquid boils the snails toughen. They are left all night on the edge of the flame, at a temperature not exceeding 60 or 70 degrees C., and in the morning they are done and very tender. We leave them in their cooking liquid until they are needed, when they are drained and cooked in a pan with a little butter, a bit of shallot and some garlic oil.

The process is very time-consuming, which is the reason people don't do it at home. Nonetheless, it's interesting to learn the whole process behind simple sautéed snails. In many restaurants, they use canned or frozen snails. It's only crazy people like us who still carry out the whole operation themselves!

For 4 servings

- 8 dozen Snails
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion
- 80 g (3 oz.) celery root
- 50 g (2 oz.) leek
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 bouquet garni
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
- 15 g (1 tbsp.) salt
- 10 g (2 tsp.) cracked pepper
- 1 clove
- Coarse salt
  1. Place all the snails in a well-closed box.
  2. Leave them to fast for one week in a cool room.
  3. After the fasting period is over, place all the snails into a sink and mix them with coarse salt to make them disgorge any impurities.
  4. Place a screen or a piece of wood over the sink so you won't be finding snails all over your kitchen!
  5. Leave for one hour.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetable cooking broth as follows:
  7. Peel all the vegetables.
  8. Take a large clean cloth and place the vegetables and the aromatic flavourings inside.
  9. Tie the four corners of the cloth together to enclose the ingredients in a bundle.
  10. Tie with string.
  11. Place the bundle in a large stockpot with 5 litres of water.
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