Sunday, May 17, 2009
Ragout of Snails and Liquorice
My good friend Elliot, from 1001 dinners 1001 nights, suggested it.
He had just been to a Langham Melbourne Masterclass, part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and attended the session, The secrets From My Jura, presented by two-star chef, Jean-Paul Jeunet, whose eponymous restaurant is in Arbois, part of the rolling, wooded mountains of the Jura in eastern France
Those who follow Elliot's blog know of his excellent palate, so when he excitedly showed me the recipe for Ragout of snails and liquorice, I knew it would be well worth trying, especially, as Elliot pointed out, it was a million miles from traditional snails served with copious amounts of garlic and butter.
Snails are an ancient ingredient, eaten for thousands of years in many parts of Europe, usually encountered served in a rustic manner. What Jeunet has done is to thoroughly modernise this shelled beast, removed from its peasant roots and placed firmly into the realms of haute cuisine.
A pertinent thing for those who aren't quite sure about eating snails, and there a quite a few of you, is that they are hidden from view in this dish, less confrontingly wrapped in a cabbage leaf, surrounded by a medley of chopped vegetables. At the table were two guests who had never eaten this tasty mollusc, one of whom had been pysching herself up for the preceding week! Both later described the dish as delicious.
If you can't find the liquorice powder called for, do what I did and use very finely chopped liquorice - be careful not to use too much as it has a very strong flavour.
Ragout of snails and liquorice
(adapted from Jean-Paul Jeunet)
50g double cream
25g carrot, diced into a fine brunoise
25g turnip, diced into a fine brunoise
25g celery, diced into a fine brunoise
25g fennel, diced into a fine brunoise, save the feathery tops
32 tinned snails
1 tablespoon shallot, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, diced
4 green cabbage leaves
fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives and fennel tops)
2g liquorice powder or finely chopped liquorice
salt and fresh ground pepper
2ooml duck consomme or chicken stock
1 tablespoon Pernod
25g cold butter in 4 pieces
Cook each vegetable separately in salted water and drain. Rinse the snails and pat dry. Blanch the cabbage leaves in salted boiling water until soft and pliable, refresh in ice water, dry and keep aside.
Melt the butter in a frypan and gently sweat the shallot and garlic, do not colour. Add all the vegetables, snails, double cream and parsley, tarragon and chives, torn or roughly chopped and gently cook until the cream thickens and the ragout comes together. Season with salt, fresh ground pepper and liquorice powder or finely chopped liquorice.
Lay a blanched cabbage leaf, inside facing up, on a piece of plastic film. Place a quarter of the ragout mixture in the cabbage leaf and roll up tightly using the plastic film. Steam for 5 minutes. Reduce the duck consomme or chicken stock by at least half, add the Pernod, then whisk in the cold butter piece by piece, check seasoning.
In four warm plates, spoon some sauce and place the cabbage roll in the centre, garnish with a selection of the herbs.
The accompanying photo was taken by Elliot Rubenstein and is of Jean-Paul Jeunet's dish, as my photos have mysteriously disappeared.