This dish is from the Midi-Pyrénées region. For the French, this is a very festive dish and each region has its own version, but they all contain lots of garlic. In the Midi/Pyrénées region, walnuts are added for extra crunch.
- 150 g (5 oz) softened butter
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
- 80 g (3 oz) walnut flesh, finely chopped
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 48 drained, cooked snails
- 600 g baby spinach leaves, washed
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) pouring (thin) cream
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) breadcrumbs
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
In a bowl, combine the softened butter, chopped shallot, garlic, parsley and walnuts. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Place the mixture between two sheets of baking paper and roll into a 5 mm-thick square. Place in the freezer to chill.
Rinse the snails and drain well.
Place the spinach in a pot, covered, and cook until just wilted. Drain the spinach and squeeze out the excess water.
Heat the cream in a pan. Stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).
Transfer the spinach to four individual gratin dishes and top each with 12 snails.
Remove the walnut butter from the freezer. Cut into 4 squares, place a piece on each serve of snails and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes to melt the butter and reheat the snails. Serve immediately.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd.
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