Here are two different ways to serve snails: in their shell, with piping-hot garlicky butter and plenty of herbs and shallots, or out of their shells, with puff pastry tops. This is a perfect dish for entertaining because it can be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated, then finished in a hot oven in less than ten minutes. The Pernod is an important flavoring and helps to keep the butter from separating as it cooks. If you don’t care for its anise flavor, use white wine instead.–Thomas Keller
Snails with Herb Butter
For the herb butter
- 4 to 5 garlic cloves peeled and finely minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup finely minced Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup finely minced chives
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- Pinch of freshly grated black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Pernod
For the snails
- 24 top-quality canned snails drained
- 1 sheet homemade or store-bought puff pastry optional
Make the herb butter
- Mince the garlic and salt together and crush with the blade of a knife to make a paste. Put the butter in a large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), add the garlic paste, and cream together.
- Add the parsley, chives, shallots, pepper, lemon juice, and Pernod and mix well. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to make certain the ingredients are distributed throughout the butter.
- The butter can be piped or spooned over the snails — if desired, transfer it to a pastry bag without a tip or with a large plain tip. If using snail dishes instead of snail shells, place a snail in each indentation and pipe or spoon about 2 teaspoons of butter over each. If using snail shells, place a snail in each shell and pipe in about 2 teaspoons of butter.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 12 hours. (Any extra herb butter is wonderful melted over meats or fish.)
Finish using snail dishes
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). With a round cutter that is about 1/4 inch larger in diameter than the indentations in the snail dishes, cut 24 rounds from the puff pastry.
- Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or sheet of parchment paper. Arrange the puff pastry rounds on the baking sheet and top with a second Silpat or cover with another sheet of parchment paper and then a second baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Bake the snails in their dishes for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the butter is bubbling. Top each snail with a round of puff pastry. and heat for about 30 seconds.
Finish using snail shells
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Arrange the shells in snail dishes or other ovenproof serving dishes. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the butter is bubbly.
Originally published April 19, 2004