About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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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)

Serves 4

25g butter
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.
  posted at 10:25 am

At 4:51 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I swear you know the most fascinating people and do the most extraordinary dishes! I've enjoyed many a snail. This is a very different and appealing idea, somehow the cabbage leaf is extra special... maybe that's because most cabbage rolls tend to be everyday dishes. Love to try this.
Always seems fun to see what foods gives people the willies and they won't touch.

At 11:21 am, Anonymous Elliot said...

Hi Neil
That really was a great dish and the recipe really worked to reproduce the dish J-P Jeunet served us. I should add that it was Sandra, my partner in all things, who first suggested that I show you the recipe.

At 3:04 pm, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

Delicious. With the cabbage leaf, that dish really is gardener's revenge.

Why don't we try for real snails? Some of those tinned ones come from India - not that there's anything wrong with that - but I stamp on more snails in my garden than France eats in a day. Stefano Pieri demonstrated how to to cleanse them for eating in his series some years ago. It was quite simple, just feed them on greens and bread for a week then starve them for a day or two.

At 4:06 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, I think that food is a good entry to fascinating people, I know you after all! It seemed such a great idea of Jeunet and appealed instantly, especially as we have cabbage rolls as everyday food too.

Hi elliot, then I owe thanks to sandra too. The dish came together really well, though I wasn't completely sure how the liquorice would work in, but I needn't have worried.

Hi kitchen hand, I've never foraged for them, but wouldn't mind trying. One night at your place? I'll bring a torch, butter and garlic!

On this occasion I needed a lot of snails (double quantity) and getting them ready prepared was a big help.

At 1:53 pm, Blogger Thermomixer said...

Thanks for posting this Neil. He had some great dishes on tasting at the brasserie over the week.

Best snail dish I have had is from Carlo Cracco in Milan - snails in olive oil creme brulee, really yummy - picture: http://www.ristorantecracco.it/images/website/maincontent/ricette/large/12_l.jpg

At 10:34 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi thermomixer, Elliot lent me the book of recipes, so there may be more...

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