Escargots à la Bourguignonne. Is there anything more French than escargot? In this classic dish from Burgundy, the snails are really just a vehicle for the delicious garlic and herb butter, so ensure you have plenty of crusty bread to soak it all up. Ideally you’ll have special snail plates and tongs – they aren’t essential but do add to the sense of theatre. Use toothpicks to extract the snails from their shells if you don’t have small cocktail forks. This is a great start to a dinner party as the shells can be filled ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve; remove them from the fridge to come to room temperature about 30 minutes before putting them into the oven. Add a classic French green salad (see video below) to turn this recipe into a supper or light meal for 2. As this is a Burgundian dish, a white Burgundy like Louis Latour Mâcon-Villages Chameroy is an ideal wine pairing.
Serves 4 as a starter
This is one occasion where you can waive the general rule about only cooking with wine you’d be prepared to drink; as the wine is simply used to soak the snails and is then discarded, any inexpensive dry white wine will suffice, as long as it isn’t faulty.
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Before using the snail shells, submerge them in a sink of very hot water with a little detergent. When cool, drain them, rinse thoroughly and set aside on a draining rack to dry, giving them a bit of shake to dislodge any remaining water.
After using the snail shells, repeat the above process to clean them. Place on a wire rack in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes to ensure they are thoroughly dry. Leave to cool in the oven, then store in a sealed container in the pantry to use again.