Dining

All Hail the Snail

Shell out for escargot
Slow, steady and delicious: Snails make citrus-dressed endives all the tastier
Snails Trend Denver Snailman Potironne Doug Dussault Endive Salad Tasting Table Test Kitchen

"These are the Kobe beef of snails," says Doug Dussault.

Dussault, a.k.a. the Snailman, should know.

The sole importer of helix pomatia, the most succulent of edible snails, Dussault manages a team of foragers who look for the little mollusks in the wilds of France, Italy, Romania and the Czech Republic.

Did you know that snails hibernate? They do.

And migrate? Indeed. "Very slowly," Dussault notes.

The Snailman has high praise for his namesake: "Sustainable. Methane-free. Organic. Free range. Snails are the ultimate protein source."

Some well-known chefs agree. Cut from their shells, poached in court bouillon and canned, Dussault's snails are delivered to an impressive list of admirers, including Daniel Boulud, Michael Tusk, Marc Vetri and Suzanne Goin.

Clockwise, from top: The Snailman, our escargot-speckled bucatini and cans of helix pomatia
As much as we love classic escargots à la bourguignonne, it's exciting to see how chefs are thinking beyond garlic butter. Snails fill the ravioli at Girl and the Goat, the pasta sauced with a reduction of pork braising juices, bacon and tamarind. At Boston's Toro, beer-braised snails are sprinkled atop fava been purée, grits and slices of pork-and-sweetbreads sausage.

"The fun part," says Le Pigeon's Gabe Rucker, "is taking the classic flavor pairings and tweaking them." His idea of fun is a rice porridge studded with helix pomatia and nubs of chicken-snail sausage, accompanied by familiar bedfellows, parsley and garlic.

Our Test Kitchen got in on the fun with two original, easy-to-try snail recipes. The first, Bucatini with Snails, Guanciale and Anchovies (see the recipe), is a kind of play on amatriciana, mingling the unctuous guanciale with anchovy and plump snails.

Next up, an Endive and Radicchio Salad with Snails and Toasted Hazelnuts (see the recipe).  Bright and interesting, it's just the thing for to make an escargot enthusiast out of anybody.

Just ask the Snailman.

Girl and the Goat 809 W. Randolph St. Chicago IL 60661 312-492-6262 Toro 1704 Washington St. Boston MA 02118 617-536-4300 Le Pigeon 738 E. Burnside St. Portland OR 97214 503-546-8796

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