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I want to make escargots in ramekins. Any suggestions?

c oliver Nov 7, 2009 04:54 PM

My elderly MIL used to make escargots when she entertained. I was thinking about making them for her but she's no longer able to handle the implements due to a recent minor stroke. I was thinking I could put *some* in ramekins and she would enjoy eating without the frustration. I've only done them in the shells and don't want to spend the money buying the porcelain baking dishes. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to do this? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Caroline1 RE: c oliver Nov 7, 2009 08:09 PM

    Not sure what's going on here, but I *DID* answer this earlier tonight but it hasn't shown up yet sooooo....

    If you're interested, I'll be glad to loan you my white porcelain egg cups. For whatever reason, I think they would work better than the larger ramekins. But with ramekins, you can probably get the same result with four or five snails in each.

    I do like escargot cooked in mushrooms. I use button mushrooms that have not opened. In other words, the gills are still tightly under wraps. Then I snap out the stem and use it just like a shell. The mushroom does drink up the butter, so I use extra. If you have the usual snail pans with the hollows to hold the shells, they work great with the mushrooms. Sometimes I add a sprikling of Panko before popping them into the oven.

    I do love escargot and used to raise my own. Alas, no helix snails in my Texas garden... <sigh>

    3 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1
      c oliver RE: Caroline1 Nov 7, 2009 08:18 PM

      You're so smart! I hadn't thought about putting the snails in mushrooms and then putting that into the metal pans. That might work quite well. When you use egg cups, do you put in more than one snail? That sounds interesting. I'll email you tomorrow. Been sick all week. x,c

      1. re: c oliver
        Caroline1 RE: c oliver Nov 7, 2009 08:26 PM

        Get well!

        1. re: c oliver
          alanbarnes RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 06:58 PM

          +1 on the mushroom approach.

          A long time ago I cooked in a restaurant that served escargot in mushroom caps. As I recall, we de-stemmed the mushrooms, finely minced the stems and cooked them with way too much garlic butter, then stuffed the caps with the minced stems, topped them with a big snail, put a dab of chive cream cheese over that, dusted with parmesan, and ran 'em under the broiler.

          For an teenager in Oklahoma, it made snails much more approachable. Now I thoroughly enjoy traditional escargot, but I have to admit - I still like the mushroom version better.

      2. dawnviola RE: c oliver Nov 7, 2009 08:35 PM

        We made escargot in puff pastry the other night in culinary school. We made sort of a ravioli out of the puff pastry and added herbed cream cheese and one snail per puff, then baked. We made the pastry from scratch, but it's available in the freezer section, too :-)

        7 Replies
        1. re: dawnviola
          c oliver RE: dawnviola Nov 7, 2009 08:40 PM

          Sounds great but I gotta tell ya I'm pretty addicted to the garlic and butter :)

          1. re: c oliver
            hotoynoodle RE: c oliver Nov 8, 2009 04:27 AM

            escargot are simply vehicles for delivering garlic and butter, lol. however, i've had them with that sauce and then baked in a ramekin with a puff pastry topping. that adds texture, color and yeah, more butter.

            1. re: hotoynoodle
              c oliver RE: hotoynoodle Nov 8, 2009 10:48 AM

              Now that's a thought. I've had tomato soup with a puff pastry top and it was fabulous.

          2. re: dawnviola
            alkapal RE: dawnviola Nov 9, 2009 12:51 PM

            i wonder if you could freeze garlic, butter, parsley in a little lump, then add with the escargot to the pastry, and wrap up like a pouch which will -- after baking -- burst (like chicken kiev) when you pop it into your mouth.

            1. re: alkapal
              c oliver RE: alkapal Nov 9, 2009 12:58 PM

              You description made me go "oh yum." I wonder, however, wouldn't the butter once melted soak through the "pouches"?

              I'm leaning toward a puff pastry top on the ramekins. Thinking I should fill them ahead of time and refrigerate, then add the puff pastry before cooking. Yes?

              1. re: c oliver
                alkapal RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 01:39 PM

                sounds good -- i'd go ahead and prep in advance.

                and you're probably right about a butter soak-through. ;-(. with chicken kiev, you've got the big old chicken piece to hold "in" the butter. here...there's really nothing to slow the butter down.

                btw, go "snail crazy" over on this site: http://www.hertzmann.com/articles/200...

              2. re: alkapal
                Phurstluv RE: alkapal Nov 10, 2009 06:39 PM

                Absolutely - puff pastry with parcooked ingredients freezes beautifully, and cooks well from frozen. I've done it a thousand times.

            2. chef chicklet RE: c oliver Nov 8, 2009 10:17 AM

              I have several mini muffin tins that are pretty tiny, would those work?

              5 Replies
              1. re: chef chicklet
                c oliver RE: chef chicklet Nov 8, 2009 10:47 AM

                My first reaction was YES! But then how would I serve it? I assume you're talking about a muffin tin that make multiple muffins.

                1. re: c oliver
                  chef chicklet RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 10:09 AM

                  With toast points, that's the way I've eaten it. The escargot comes served in the shell in the little round pans, with garlic butter all over of course, the toast points are served seperately. We pick the escargot out, plop it on the toast. sop all the butter when no ones looking. The pans and shells are a pain anyway.
                  or like this.

                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/marylise...
                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwny/358...

                2. re: chef chicklet
                  hotoynoodle RE: chef chicklet Nov 8, 2009 08:14 PM

                  the dish i have had, the puff pastry is only a "lid". no way to successfully plate mini-muffin versions of this. with the amount of butter i like with escargot, i can't imagine a "bottom" bit of pastry not succumbing to mad sogginess.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                    c oliver RE: hotoynoodle Nov 8, 2009 08:26 PM

                    I'm with you on this. I'm still trying to figure this out Let's say I have a ramekin that will hold 4 oz. I can put a few snails in each one but still struggle with the "snail butter" part. Should I put a pieceof bread on the bottom to simply take up room and "suck up" butter? :) Thanks for continuing to walk me through this.

                    1. re: c oliver
                      hotoynoodle RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 06:23 AM

                      the pastry is a lid. put the snails and the garlic butter in the ramekin. cover with puff pastry that you trim to fit snugly, so it will bake into a pretty, poofy, golden cap. place the ramekin on a small plate to serve (only because said ramekin will be crazy hot from oven.)

                      when diners "cut" into the pastry with a fork, some pastry will naturally cave in. so that will be your "bread".

                3. j
                  jacinthe RE: c oliver Nov 8, 2009 03:01 PM

                  Around the holidays, Trader Joes has these amazing hors d'oeuvres - escargots in mini brioches. You could maybe do the same, if you had the time. I'm not sure of all the logistics, whether you'd have to cook the escargots before putting them into the hollowed-out brioche (having never cooked escargots myself before) with the garlic butter and then reheating so the butter melts.. either way, it's a darling presentation.

                  1. cassoulady RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 01:33 PM

                    C oliver, I LOVE escargot especially in those fun little cast iron serving pans, but they would be great in ramekins/custard cups.
                    May I ask what recipe are you using? Are you using fresh escargot?

                    1. cassoulady RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 01:50 PM

                      Question- do most restaurants use canned escargot?

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: cassoulady
                        Full tummy RE: cassoulady Nov 9, 2009 02:06 PM

                        I think that might depend on where you live. Here in Toronto, where I live, yes. When I was visiting Brussels, no.

                        1. re: cassoulady
                          c oliver RE: cassoulady Nov 9, 2009 03:27 PM

                          I think that but I don't know that. I don't think I've ever had them outside the US. Caroline1 has "raised" them; maybe she knows.

                          1. re: c oliver
                            Caroline1 RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 09:12 PM

                            Then you DID get my email? Good! If you responded, it was to the wrong email address OR cyber space swallowed it. I've had that happen more than once!

                            On the puff pastry cases with butter amounts reminiscent of chicken Kiev, I developed a technique for beef Wellington that could work for you if you're into compound flavors. A common problem with beef Wellington is a soggy bottom crust because the butter/goose fat cooks out of the duxelle and pate and sogs things up. To limit that, I first lay down a thin layer of Prosciutto on the puff pastry, then spread the duxelle and pate across it before encasing the tenderloin inside it all. You could try the ham with a trial puff pastry case, and I would pinch it closed with the seams on top to control leakage. I would also try a single layer of wilted spinach leaf on the puff pastry, then put the garlic butter and snail inside it and see if that's a better flavor combination than the ham. Or a grape leaf. Or even a wilted piece of iceberg lettuce, which has a very pleasant but mild flavor when cooked. To prevent the soggy bottom and butter penetration, you need to create a moisture/fat barrier. But there is no such problem when you use the mushroom cap in place of a snail shell. And a LOT less work!

                          2. re: cassoulady
                            shaogo RE: cassoulady Nov 9, 2009 03:35 PM

                            Restaurants in the U.S. predominately use canned escargot. The best, most consistent brand out there is Roland.

                            1. re: cassoulady
                              Caroline1 RE: cassoulady Nov 9, 2009 08:55 PM

                              I've never had fresh escargot in a restaurant in the U.S.. On the other hand, I haven't eaten in all of the restaurants in the U.S.! The problem is that it takes a lot of plants to sustain a crop of snails large enough to supply the restaurants daily demand. On top of that, there is a minimum of a three day purging period between harvesting the snails and their first blanch. Then they have to be taken from their shells, a small inedible sack (similar to a bile sack) on the rear of the body removed by hand, THEN you can cook or freeze the snails as you wish. OR the restaurant has to find a reliable snail breeder who can meet their demand. I suspect most U.s. restaurants use canned.

                              For home cooks, if you live in an area that has edible snails naturally, it's not a lot of trouble, just a bit time consuming, but the effort is well worth the time!

                              1. re: Caroline1
                                Full tummy RE: Caroline1 Nov 9, 2009 09:00 PM

                                What makes it well worth the time? I have a bunch o' snails in my backyard, but I'm thinking I'll stick to the cans for the time being, hahaha.

                            2. shaogo RE: c oliver Nov 9, 2009 03:48 PM

                              c oliver:

                              What a lovely idea for your mother-in-law! Why not treat everyone to a ramekin of escargot and totally do away with the implements. She'll feel even more at ease if she's not singled out.

                              I hear you on the price of the special baking dishes. On the East Coast, in New York, one can find them dirt cheap if one scours the used restaurant equipment stores.

                              Of course you can utilize escargot butter and 5-6 plump snails in 4 ounce ramekins. I like the idea of covering with puff pastry, but I'd bake the pastry separately and just use it as a "crouton" on top of the buttery, snaily goodness. Especially festive are the puff pastry "leaves" that're all the rage now. 2-3 atop each ramekin is a classy touch.

                              I'm assuming you use MIL's escargot butter recipe. In the event you don't, I humbly offer:

                              Equal amounts of: minced flat parsley, minced shallots, minced garlic, drained minced roasted red peppers.

                              Ten times that amount of sweet cream butter.

                              To taste: white pepper, cayenne, fines herbs, capers, anchovy filets/paste.

                              Beat the butter with the paddle in a stand mixer. Beat in the first ingredients, season. Fill ramekins with snails, then butter. Bake the ramekins on a sheet in a fast oven.

                              When making this recipe in restaurant amounts, I run the first ingredients, whole (not minced) through the coarse blade of a meat mincer. The tiny, even-sized chunks add a whole new dimension to the escargot butter's mouth-feel.

                              Good luck with a food that's one of my favorites! (Serve with a Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, slightly chilled).

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: shaogo
                                c oliver RE: shaogo Nov 9, 2009 05:26 PM

                                Oh, shaogo, I'm definitely going to serve us all that way. And can't wait. At the age of 89, she's still pretty sharp but no recipes will be forthcoming so thanks more than a million for your recipe, esp. the detailed directions.

                                As an aside, the can I have is quite large. The advice I've gotten for storing the leftovers is to cover with olive oil. Do you have any recs in that regard? Thanks as always, s.

                                1. re: c oliver
                                  shaogo RE: c oliver Nov 10, 2009 06:22 PM

                                  c o :

                                  I've *never* had left-over escargot (even in the restaurant, we'd prep a whole can, in the little porcelain dishes, and it'd sell out) so I can't really expertly opine on what to do.

                                  I have a big problem with pouring oil over anything in a can, moreso anything that's been initially packed in water. It's a personal bug; botulism thrives in the anaerobic (oxygen-free) atmosphere that packing in oil can cause.

                                  Freezing the leftovers would definitely have texture ramifications, or worse.

                                  Why not just have escargot 2-3 days in a row? (I would!)

                                  1. re: shaogo
                                    c oliver RE: shaogo Nov 10, 2009 06:53 PM

                                    That's what I've done in the past. Oh, dang, I have to eat that AGAIN? Poor me :)

                                2. re: shaogo
                                  hotoynoodle RE: shaogo Nov 9, 2009 08:23 PM

                                  shaogo, long day for me-- advice is spot-on and brillz. thanks for getting back before i could!

                                  c. oliver-- enjoy!

                                3. Phurstluv RE: c oliver Nov 10, 2009 06:33 PM

                                  Have you ever thought to put them in mini brioche buns, with holes on the top, instead of sliced horizontally? That way they are a one-bite wonder of snail, garlic, butter & brioche?

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