By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
The weather is quite frightful out there. Snow, rain, sleet and more wintertime misery.
Pair that with this ridiculous pandemic, and it makes for a crappy winter afternoon. Personally, I’ll take a foot of snow and a few cold days in which I can start a roaring fire and enjoy some hot cocoa and then maybe some vino.
Down here, however, there seldom haps a storm such as the one I prefer. We get the slush.
Now, I know that I have complained about this before, but once a year, Mother Nature should be required to give us said blizzard. Just once per year. Is that too much to ask?
Be that as it may, it is still bone-chillingly damp these days — 37-degrees and raining is downright miserable. At least we have foods that can keep us warm while we wait for spring to sprout.
Of course, soups come to mind, but hearty foods abound as we spend more time in the kitchen just trying to entertain ourselves.
Recently, I took a trip to Boston with my kids. We ate out every day for five days (it was supposed to be three but we got snowed in for an extra day and a half).
I introduced the kids to Vietnamese, Spanish and the wonderful world of tapas, foods of Israel and Maghreb and China.
Tendon, tripe and duck hearts all found their way to the table. Despite trying even the tripe and tendon, they all refused to try the duck hearts. Personally, I was not a fan of them myself, but now I know that lock, stock and barrel.
I was surprised, though, to learn that none of them would try the escargots when they came to the table. They all wrinkled their nose and said “ewww…..snails.”
Of course, this only meant more for me. Embracing my French heritage, I supped on the slippery little helix pomatia and dunked the crusty, fresh toast in the remaining garlic butter. They were perfect. They were divine.
With garlic butter dripping down my hand coming off of the toast points, I could barely stop long enough to wipe it off.
At this point, I was stuffed. Earlier dishes of bone marrow, croquetas, Serrano ham, mushrooms, seared rare beef, beet salad, spinach salad and others adorned the table in a sublime mid-afternoon feast.
Regardless, nothing was going to stop me from eating all the escargots, especially as my children had no interest.
I had a Rioja reserve on the table, and as it was a veritable blizzard outside and I was driving, I stopped there. The snails would have paired better with a dry chardonnay, but the tempranillo grape worked just fine. The peppery notes played with the heavy garlic flavors in the melted butter and served me quite well.
The real kicker to this meal was that it was prepared for us by my nephew Matthew.
I received a text from my sister earlier in the day that he was training for the month in Boston about one mile from where my daughters are staying.
Had she not texted me as we were shopping at the Cambridge Target, I would have never known, or at least would have known only after I was 450 miles away.
Effectively developing my food coma, I realized that driving home in the blizzard was probably not the best of ideas. As such, I got a hotel room a mile down the road and settled on taking the train into Boston Common to at least catch a glimpse of the snow, truly one of my favorite places to be when it snows.
What a fantastic trip. We needed to get out of the area for a few days, and then it turned into five. Next up is taking a puddle jumper somewhere … anywhere. I am truly losing my mind.
Even without the pandemic, we haven’t had a vacation in almost three years.
That changes now. It’s time to focus on family and get a few more trips under our belts, but hopefully without the slush.
24 ea. Snails, canned
1 c. Softened butter
4 ea. Garlic cloves, fresh
3 Tbsp. fresh broadleaf parsley
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp. Dry white wine
Dash hot sauce
1 tsp. Cracked black peppercorn
salt, as needed
1. Rinse the snails and pat them dry. Set aside.
2. Smash or mince the garlic finely.
3. Mince the parsley.
4. Make a compound butter with these and all of the remaining ingredients.
5. The following process is the same whether you are using shells or an escargot dish.
6. Place some of the garlic butter in each shell or in each recessed spot on the dish.
7. Place a snail on each.
8. Smother the snail with more of the butter.
9. Bake at 400F until the butter is melted and the escargots are hot throughout. Do not overcook these as they will get overly tough.
10. Serve with a good toast for sopping up the melted butter. You simply cannot let any of that go to waste.
11. This pairs well with a white Burgundy (Chardonnay). Of course, it does not have to be a French wine to pair well. Just make sure that it is a nice, dry white wine. If you are solely a red wine person, a pinot noir would pair nicely as well.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor
of Culinary Arts at Wor-Wic
Community College and
owner of .
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.