Escargot from your garden
- handful of fine salt
- bouquet of garni
- splash of white wine vinegar
- handful of cracked peppercorns
- garlic butter, to serve
Collect as many snails as you desire from your garden and place them in a big wooden box or plastic container (they will eat their way out of a cardboard box) with lettuce leaves and bread offcuts that have been softened in a little water. Keep them in the boxes for about 3 days, and then transfer the snails to a clean box for another 2 days with nothing to eat – they will purge.
On day 5, put the snails in a large colander with a handful of fine salt and toss. The snails will immediately start to get rid of a huge quantity of slime – this is quite impressive. Hose them down, rinse thoroughly and drain.
In a very large pot with water, add a big bouquet of garni, a splash of white wine vinegar and a few cracked peppercorns. Bring to the boil, toss in the escargots and cook in this bouillon, about 20 minutes.
Remove the snails with a slotted spoon, refresh with cold water and extract them from the shells using an oyster or cake fork. Hold the shell in one hand and gently hook out the whole animal – there is quite a lot in there. The purists eat everything, but many choose to discard the tummy even though it has been disgorged and is clean.
Serve with garlic butter and put them back in their shells. Or get more creative – you decide!