- 600 g farmed snails
- puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- 500 ml beef stock
- sea salt
- 100 g butter
- 6 French shallots (or equivalent red onion), finely diced
- 1 thick slice of speck, cut into batons
- 12 small Swiss brown or button mushrooms, quartered
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 12 chervil sprigs, leaves picked and chopped, plus extra sprigs to garnish
- 300 ml red wine
- ½ cup freshly shelled peas
- freshly ground black pepper
- tiny baby carrots to garnish (optional)
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.
Put the snails in the freezer for 1 hour to put them to sleep.
Preheat the oven to 180Â°C. Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to about 3 mm thick. Cut 6 circles around 7 cm wide to form bases for the vol-a-vents.
(Alternatively, you can cut a different shape â€“ even a snail with a large circle for its body and a head and tail at either side.) Place the pastry bases on a buttered tray and brush with the beaten egg. Cut thin rings to sit on top of the circles â€“ they will rise and become the rims of the vol-au-vents. Brush the rims with egg and bake the vol-au-vents in the oven until risen and golden.
Pour the beef stock into a saucepan and simmer until reduced to a sauce that coats the spoon.
Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the snails. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until they float to the surface like gnocchi. Refresh the snails briefly in a bowl of iced water, then drain. Remove the meat from each snail by stabbing it with a toothpick and pulling it out of the shell. If the snails are properly cooked, the bodies will come out easily (if not, they can break in the shell).
Heat the butter in a frying pan over low heat and sautÃ© the shallots and speck. After a minute or so, add the mushrooms and garlic and sautÃ© briefly, then add the snails, chervil and red wine. Once simmering, add the peas and several ladlefuls of the reduced stock and simmer until reduced to a sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
To serve, put the vol-au-vents on plates and spoon the snails, vegetables and sauce inside. Allow a little to spill out of the vol-au-vents onto the plates. Garnish with chervil sprigs.