Region: France, Languedoc
Category: Antipasto, Meze, Tapas, and Hors d'Oeuvres
Difficulty: Medium Difficulty
Snails are the great overlooked food of the Mediterranean as every region has many snail preparations. In the Languedoc, in southwestern France, escargot recipes abound. Here is one of the simpler ones and one that is great for an introduction to snails. You will need to make a beignet batter for frying. This is the master recipe for pâte ŕ beignets, the batter used for making deep-fried beignets as opposed to baked beignets.[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 6 appetizer servings
Preparation Time: 1 hour
For the batter
1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour, sifted
2 large eggs, one separated with white beaten until stiff
6 tablespoons half and half
3/4 cup beer (lager)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the snails and frying
Vegetable or olive oil for frying
24 canned snails, drained well, rinsed, and chopped
1. Pour the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. To the well, add the whole egg, egg yolk, half and half, beer, and olive oil and beat with a fork to make a batter. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix well and check the seasonings. Incorporate the beaten egg white and fold it into the batter until homogeneous. Refrigerate for 1 hour before using.
2. Preheat the frying oil in a deep-fryer or an 8-inch saucepan fitted with a basket insert to 375 degrees F. Preheat the oven to “warm,” about 150 degrees F.
3. Stir the chopped snails into the batter. Gently drop soup spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil without crowding. Cook in batches until golden brown, turning if necessary, about 4 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking pan, salt lightly, and keep warm in the oven while you continue to cook the remaining beignets.