Snails with Walnuts

Walnuts can be a problem, because so often they’re either dry or old. French housewives have two tricks for reviving them: soak them in sugared water or hot milk overnight, or gently toast them in a skillet to release their natural oils.–Paula Wolfert

LC Fines Herbes Note

Fines herbes is a mixture of parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil, preferably fresh but dried will suffice quite nice. Unlike that other French mainstay, bouquet garni, fines herbes don’t require a long simmer. A short cooking time is all they need to impart their glorious flavor.

Snails with Walnuts Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 3 H, 35 M
  • Serves 4


  • 1 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream
  • One 7 1/2-ounce can snails (24 large snails)
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fines herbes (see Note)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


  • 1. Place the crème fraîche in a funnel lined with a paper coffee filter and let drain until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 hours. Or boil the heavy cream until reduced to 3/4 cup. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • 2. Drain the snails and toss them with the wine in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you plan to cook them.
  • 3. Place 3 tablespoons of the softened butter in a shallow bowl and cream with a wooden spoon. Gradually work in the fines herbes, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate the seasoned butter. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 2 hours in advance.)
  • 4. Shortly before serving, melt the remaining butter in medium skillet over moderate heat; stir in the walnuts and reduce the heat to low. Cook, tossing, until the walnuts are aromatic, about 3 minutes. Stir in the crème fraîche or heavy cream. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the snails and wine; heat through. Do not allow to boil, or the snails will toughen. Remove from the heat.
  • 5. Swirl in the seasoned butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is thick and well blended. Return the skillet to low heat to reheat gently, 15 to 20 seconds; overheating will cause the sauce to separate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • 6. Spoon 6 snails into each of 4 hot ramekins; divide the sauce equally among them. Serve immediately.

    Note: Fines herbes is a mixture of fresh parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil. At least 2 of the herbs should be fresh and the others can be dried if fresh are not available.
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