3rd March 2014

Slow snail fry

By MaitreMarcel

For a while I had been keeping a jar of snail in the larder. I had bought them at a food fair from the Bonvalot snail farm in the Jura. They “raise” snail in a natural surrounding and cook them in a herb stock without any added chemicals. I also had a large string of Lautrec garlic bought on the market of Lalbenque when we were there on our truffle adventure.

The combination of snail and garlic is rather widespread. Parsley is a third favourite ingredient that goes well with snail. However, often the snail is overcooked in a kind of rubber state and drenched in a dollop of melted parsley butter with garlic.
I bought fresh parsley on the market and found fresh brown button mushrooms. This is a variety of the white button mushroom, which is the most used and cultivated kind of mushroom. In French, they are called champignon de Paris because they used to be grown in caves around Paris. Nowadays they are grown in the Loire valley if not imported from the Netherlands or from China.
The import mushrooms, often raised in dark and cold storage rooms, are cheap in price but perish quickly and render a lot of moist in the pan. The fresh mushrooms grown in caves underground or in the rocks are far superior. The Netherlands also has some production of these, in the south in Limburg, and perhaps the Chinese also have a better quality of button mushroom but that does not find its way to the supermarkets and food stalls here (I find it strange anyway to import button mushrooms all the way from China, or green beans from Peru, when there is local production available, at least in the season).
These mushrooms were firm, not spongy, and had the size of a pigeon’s egg.
I also bought some “ratte de Touquet” ratte potatoes (small potatoes grown in the North of France that have a slight nutty flavour and can be eaten with the skin where most vitamins are).
I also took some shallot onions.
The potatoes need 10 minutes of boiling, which I did in water with some veal stock powder.
I cut a head of garlic and sliced the shallots. I washed and dried the parsley and chopped it with an Italian Mezzaluna knife.
After the potatoes had cooled down, I cut them in two. I cleaned the mushrooms with a paper cloth for sand, removed the base of the stem and sliced them.
I put some 100 grammes of butter in a skillet. When it started to sizzle I added the garlic and mushroom and stirred until it browned. Then I added the potatoes back and the drained snail. I stir fried for some four minutes while occasionally stirring and added a glass of red vermouth.
When the liquid had almost evaporated, I took the skillet off the fire, added the parsley and a few twists of the pepper mil and stirred it again. Ready to serve.