Escargot Stuffed Mushrooms

Southern Oregon has a great secret. The garden snails are edible and we can make our own backyard escargot! Perhaps you can too. The snails we have in abundance here are known as Helix Aspersa, The Common Garden Snail
These snails are common all over the world and eaten regularly in France, Spain, Italy and Greece. 
Harvesting your own snails requires some patience and a little bit of planning but on a daily basis you really do very little. You also control the exact day you would like to serve this divine little dish. It is also so much less traumatic than I first thought it would be. In fact it's quite simple and fascinating! I read through several recipes and articles describing the cleaning and preparing of snails until I came up with this method which works wonderfully for me.
Snail Husbandry ~
The first task toward making escargot stuffed mushrooms will be hunting and then caring for your garden snails while you fatten them up and prepare them for the feast.
 
Snails like to come out and forage after a rain or after you water. In our neighborhood many people have irrigation systems that water their lawns with sprinklers mostly early in the morning. 
Since we like to walk first thing in the morning, this works out to our advantage! I bring a small plastic bag with me and watch the ground for garden snails. Often I find the biggest snails with the hardest shells along our walk where the lawns are not so nicely tended. I believe this is because the owners are spending little to no effort keeping up the lawn and therefor are not using any chemicals. Win Win!
Don't pick up any snails that are on a road or in an area that obviously has been treated in anyway. Think about what the snails might be eating in the area where you pick them up and make sure it seems right to you. Snails will eat a ridiculous amount of things you really don't want to consume in any form so the snails we want to eat should be eating from a healthy garden.

I bring home as many as I find each day for 2-3 days and for me that usually works out to 9-12 snails total. You can add snails to the group each day until you have as many as you would like but then remember you have to feed the entire group carrots until all the droppings being left have turned mostly orange.

I like to keep them in a glass casserole so that I can easily keep an eye on the conditions and they have plenty of room to move about and leave their droppings which are black to start with. That's pretty much all they do, eat, hang out on the ceiling and poo.

I give them a tiny bowl of water and three 2 inch carrots to work on and I prop open the lid with a toothpick for a little air. Once or twice a day I take off the glass lid for a healthy air change and I clean out the dish once a day. Basically, it takes about 5 minutes per day to keep them healthy.

After about 4-5 days, their poo turns nearly completely orange. Now I know that I've cleaned out their little bellies of anything I truly don't want to eat and it's time to plan the exact day I want to serve them up with lots of butter and garlic.

4-5 days before serving, I stop feeding them. For the next days I will continue to care for them exactly as before but while essentially starving them. If this bothers you, don't try this at home and go buy the canned snails. If it intrigues you, read on!

Did I mention what a great science experiment this can be if you have kids at home? I was completely inspired by Gordon Ramsay's YouTube video on harvesting garden snails with kids in his backyard and just had to give it a go! 

Once your snails have cleaned themselves out thoroughly, it's time to enjoy the efforts of your snail husbandry.

Bring the salted water to a full boil and add the fresh snails. Boil for 3 minutes then rinse in cool fresh water.

Bring the White vinegar water to a boil and add the boiled snails. Continue to boil for another 5 minutes in the vinegar to remove any slime. The water will probably foam up depending on how slimy you're snails are. Mine are not very slimy here.

Rinse the snails again in cool fresh water then pluck them from their shells very carefully with tweezers. You can rinse the shells well and bake them in the oven to dry them if you like but wild snail shells are usually very thin and fragile.

Place the crimini mushrooms in a shallow baking dish then fill each mushroom with one snail or a spoonful of the cream cheese filling until you have filled all of the mushrooms.

Next, cover the snail stuffed mushrooms with the compound butter.

Pre-heat an oven to 400 degrees and bake the mushrooms for about 15 minutes. When the mushrooms are just getting tender, turn on the broiler and broil the stuffed mushrooms for another few minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

If you find yourself with more snails than you want to serve at one sitting but need to keep them all on the same schedule you can freeze the snails you don't want to eat right away after they have been removed from their shells. Freeze them individually laying them flat on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Once frozen, place them in a freezer bag for later. Thaw in the refrigerator when ready to use or cook directly from frozen in your next dish.
Cheers!
~Melisa
 

Escargot Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

9 - 12  fresh garden snails that have been prepared for cooking by feeding them carrots or corn meal for 4-5 days then fasted for 5 days and washed thoroughly in cool clean water as described above.

2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1 1/2 cups water.

1/4 cup white vinegar diluted with 3/4 cups water.

12 evenly sized crimini mushrooms cleaned and stemmed

Compound butter:

1/2 cup room temperature butter blended with 4 cloves of minced garlic, one minced small shallot, a pinch of Herbs de Provence or a tablespoon of freshly minced parsley and salt & black pepper to taste.

Cream Cheese filling (if using):

4 oz cream cheese blended with 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1 clove minced garlic, a pinch of the minced shallot, a dash of cayenne pepper and salt & black pepper to taste.

Crusty Bread for Serving


 

Method

Bring the salted water to a full boil and add the fresh snails. Boil for 3 minutes then rinse in cool fresh water.

Bring the White vinegar water to a boil and add the boiled snails. Continue to boil for another 5 minutes in the vinegar to remove any slime. The water will probably foam up depending on how slimy you're snails are. Mine are not very slimy here.

Rinse the snails again in cool fresh water then pluck them from their shells very carefully with tweezers. You can rinse the shells well and bake them in the oven to dry them if you like but wild snail shells are usually very thin and fragile.

Place the crimini mushrooms in a shallow baking dish then fill each mushroom with one snail or a spoonful of the cream cheese filling until you have filled all of the mushrooms.

Next, cover the snail stuffed mushrooms with the compound butter.

Pre-heat an oven to 400 degrees and bake the mushrooms for about 15 minutes. When the mushrooms are just getting tender, turn on the broiler and broil the stuffed mushrooms for another few minutes until the tops are golden brown.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

 

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Copywrite © 2019 by Melisa Smith