Escargot with Rosemary – Cretan Kohli Boubouristi

My ramblings today are all about Escargot aka Snails.

I know, I know.

People don’t like escargot, in fact most people make a face of disgust when I tell them how much I enjoy cooked snails. I love them. I can clear off one whole plate in a matter of a few minutes.

 

Where I grew up in Crete, escargot are a local delicacy and in fact a widely beloved and often cooked dish. You can buy them at any open air food market. And many people – including my parents – pick them wild from the fields.

Life Cycle of Snails

 

 

 

In Crete, the rainy season starts around September/October. This is when the kohli wake up from summer estivation. They crawl all over the fields eating grass and leaves and they reproduce. This pretty much continues for 5-6 months which lasts all through the winter season. During this period they cannot be eaten, as they are too thin and have a bitter taste.

 

Later on around March the picking season starts. Snails dwell in fields up in the hills or in vineyards.  They are usually found under the stone or soil, or close to the vine trunks. Once picked, they are stored in crates and fed mostly flour and uncooked pasta. This feeding and tending period lasts about one month. It’s enough time for the kohli to fatten up and clean up.

At the end of this time they are ready for consumption and their taste is earthy and juicy, not bitter at all. As Snails don’t do well in heat, they stay dormant in their shell during the hot months. Starting in May, they seal their shell with a dry layer of mucus.  Source: Wikipedia.

Making the escargot

First, put the snails in a bowl full of water and let them sit for 4-5 mins to soak.

Soaking the snails

With a preferably toothy knife, remove the layer over the shell opening. Scrub the shell all around to clean it thoroughly. One by one.

 

 

Thereafter, sprinkle some salt straight on the bottom of a wide frying pan.

Put it over medium-high heat. Place the snails on the bottom face down. In Cretan dialect, boubouristi means with the face down. Hence kohli boubouristi, which basically means snails (cooked) face down. There. Moving along swiftly.

Tuck them in the pan nice and tight so they all fit and cook them for 3 mins.

Add a cup of water and cook them for 15-20 mins. You’ll see a greenish-yellow foam forming on the top

Remove the foam with a spoon as much as you can. After about 15-20 mins add the olive oil and sprigs of rosemary.

Taste the food and add some more salt if needed.

At this point, you probably want to add some extra water to make them extra juicy, about 1/3 cup.

Cook for 5-6 more mins. Towards the end, you add in the vinegar. Then cook them for 2 mins more and they are done. The snails are done when they are chewy and juicy (but not too chewy).

 

Don’t overcook them, because it will be harder to take them out of the shell. You can check their doneness by taking a fork with long tines and first tap them at the back of the shell and break it just a bit. Then turn the shell around looking at its opening. Pierce the fleshy part straight through and down a little. And then pull the flesh out towards you, turning your hand clockwise. Good luck!

Serve them in a plate with their juices.

 

Escargot with Rosemary

Escargot cooked with rosemary are a local delicacy in Crete. Consumed since antiquity on the island, they are a staple summer dish. Nevertheless, extremely rewarding for the wild ones that like to try new things.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Greek
Keyword escargot, escargotandrosemary, snails, snailsandrosemary
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 5 people
Author PenelopeCooks

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds (700 g) edible land snails or escargot
  • salt
  • 1 + 1/3 cup water
  • 1.5 cup olive oil
  • 6-7 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 100 ml (7 tbsps) red wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Soak the snails for 4-5 mins. With a toothy knife, remove the layer over the shell opening and scrub the dirt off the shell all around.

  2. Thereafter, sprinkle some salt straight on the bottom of a wide frying pan. The fire should be medium-high.  Tuck the snails all in tightly and face down. Cook them for 3 mins. 

  3. Add a cup of water and cook them for 15-20 mins. You’ll see a greenish-yellow foam forming on the top. Remove as much as you can with spoon. 

  4. Add the olive oil. Taste the salt and adjust.

  5. At this point, you probably want to add some extra water to make them extra juicy, about 1/3 cup.

  6. Cook for 5-6 more mins. Towards the end, add in the vinegar. Cook them for 2 mins. The snails are done when they are chewy and juicy (but not too chewy).

Recipe Notes

Don’t overcook them, because it will be harder to take them out of the shell. You can check their doneness by taking a fork with long tines and first tap them at the back of the shell and break it just a bit. Then turn the shell around looking at its opening. Pierce the fleshy part straight through and down a little. And then pull the flesh out towards you, turning your hand clockwise. 

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katie whelan
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katie whelan

Fabulous!!!!