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Hi y’all. Did you miss me last week? I was busily eating my way around the world at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in Orlando. This is the 3rd year BB and I have attended this event, with BB doing wine seminars as well as working with chefs doing food and wine pairing seminars, and me, just tagging along and enjoying the food and drink. It’s so much fun and so much food. One of our culinary visits was to the land of France where we enjoyed some Escargot in the shells with garlic butter. Not exactly on the “diet” but we walked a lot, and it was hot and humid, so we worked (sweated?) it off.
snails are only 20 calories per dozen AND zero fat
On another recent trip, BB brought me home a can of ready to use snails. I’m sorry, I mean escargot. Well, truthfully, the can does say snails and escargot by any other name is simply a cleaned up snail.
I may have mentioned before, the man does like to challenge me.
On yet another separate occasion, while dining with my son, the soon to be GRADUATE of the Collins School of Hospitality Management on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona, and his host family for his summer job at the Rosewood Resort in Palo Alto, one of our dishes was a delicious Green Basil Risotto.
OK, you might wonder, where the heck is this story going…
Many common garden snails are edible. They don’t have to be a French snail. But regardless of where your live snail comes from, it must be cleansed. Purged of all the garbage snails are known to slither through. And their slime. In France, many are cleansed on grape leaves, which makes a lot of sense. Snails are also often cleaned on herbs, basil being one of the most popular herbs to use. So I thought, why not put one of the popular purging methods, basil, together with one of my favorite dishes, risotto, and make a Basil Risotto with Escargot (snail)?
And so I did.
My first pass on this dish was a disaster. Well, it was edible, but not blog-worthy. I knew I could do better. The first pass, I tried to combine the basil with the stock to cook the risotto. The result was basil flavor so muted you could hardly taste it. And the color, well, let’s just go with not pretty. So for this rendition, I decided to cook the risotto first and do more of a pesto style for the basil part. Since I was going to sauté the snails in garlic butter, I decided not to use garlic in the basil pesto, only a bit of what I would normally finish a risotto off with anyway, some parmesan cheese, a little extra virgin olive oil (in place of that pat of butter) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This time it was perfect.
While I love the convenience of canned snails, you could actually go out into your own garden and harvest them for yourself. How to clean them is well explained in this article from Mother Earth News. Snails, or do you prefer escargot? are actually very high in protein, while being low in both fat and calories. As a matter of fact, they are 15% protein, 2.4% fat, and 80% water. Depending on their preparation, they can be slightly chewy, although these particular snails were very tender, with a subtle earthy flavor.
As always, I prepared my risotto in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Why not? It’s convenient, economical (2 cups broth as compared to 6 – 8 cups) fast, and 90% handsfree. My kind of risotto. If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, electric or otherwise, you can cook your risotto with either of these methods; my recipe for Black Pepper Risotto is practically handsfree, and this recipe for Red Wine Rosemary Risotto not only explains the steps for both pressure cooker and the “old fashioned” methods but explains why I prefer pressure cooker risotto.
Because there is so much flavor in the basil “pesto” and the snails cooking method, I made a very plain risotto. Shallot, extra virgin olive oil, arborio rice, my favorite white wine, vermouth, and low-sodium chicken stock. I like to use vermouth instead of white wine as I find the flavor is always consistent. White wines can go from floral, to oaky, to sweet, to dry. White vermouth is, white vermouth. And it’s a bargain. I can buy a bottle of vermouth for $2.99 to $3.99 in most markets. Find a decent wine at that price point. I’ll bet you can’t.
So are you ready to try some Basil Risotto with Escargot? I hope you do. It’s really good.
LindySez: Since we ate this as a main dish, I put the serving size down as for 2. If you were serving this as a part of a multi-course dinner as a first or second course, it would easily serve 4 and possibly 6.
Wine Recommendation: A Burgundian style Chardonnay is, of course, the perfect choice. A second choice would be a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
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