Snail bonbons

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This snail recipe is a lavish concoction from Laurie Gear featuring an array of princely ingredients. It relies on some great craft from the reader in order to execute the dish, but the end result is tremendously rewarding. Snails and pig's tails give the dish an almost medieval feel.

First published in 2015
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Braised snails

Pig tail brine

Red wine sauce

Garlic cream

White onion cream

Madeira shallot rings

Black onion seed panko

Pig tail braising liquid


  • Deep fat fryer
  • Blender
  • Fine chinoise


Start with the brine for the pig's tails by combining all of the listed brine ingredients - but not the pigs tails - and bringing to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour the brine over the pigs tails and leave in the fridge for 24 hours
When the pig tails are ready to be removed from the brine, start on the braise. Place a large saucepan on a high heat. Cut the carrots, celery and onion into a large dice and cook, using a little vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add in the chopped vegetables, leaving the leek aside, and cook until golden brown
Add the leek and cook until caramelised. Add the thyme and bay and cook for further two minutes, then add the white wine and reduce by two thirds. While the wine is reducing, preheat the oven to 120˚C/gas mark 1/2. Add the chicken stock, water and pigs tails. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook in the oven for eight hours
While the pig tails are braising, take the purged snails and place into a vac bag. Cook in a water bath at 85˚C for four hours
Remove the pig's tails from the oven and allow to cool in the braising liquid. While the tails are still warm, remove from the liquid. Make a small incision at the base of the tails and remove any bone and excess fat. Wrap tightly in cling film and cool in ice water to maintain the shape
For the red wine sauce, medium slice the shallots and garlic and add to a large saucepan and with a dash of oil. Cook over a medium heat until lightly caramelised. Add the thyme and bay and cook for a further two minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, reduce until almost dry, then add 300ml of the red wine and reduce by two thirds
Add the chicken and veal stocks, bring to a simmer and cook for a further 45 minutes. Pass through a fine chinoise, then through a coffee filter. Return to the pan and add the remaining 25ml of red wine and ice wine vinegar. Bring to a simmer and reduce for a further 20 minutes. Strain again and set aside for later use
To make the shallot rings, finely slice the shallot and leave to infuse in the milk and Madeira for 2 hours
While the shallot rings are marinating, move on to the white onion cream. Place the butter in a saucepan on a medium heat. Finely slice the onions and sweat with a little salt in the butter until translucent, being careful not to colour. Add the cream, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Blend on a high speed until very smooth, season to taste and return to the pan to reheat later
By now you should still have an hour before the shallot rings are ready. Start on the garlic cream by making sure all the garlic is clean and that the fibrous outer skin has been removed. Place in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, then repeat a further three times. While the garlic is boiling, reduce the chicken stock to 180ml. Combine the stock, garlic and double cream in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, blend and pass through a fine chinoise
  • 100g of wild garlic
  • 160ml of double cream
  • 500ml of chicken stock
Dissolve the cornflour in the water, combine with milk and minced garlic. Bring to a simmer and add to the garlic cream, then return to the heat and cook for a further 4 minutes. Finally, add the Dijon mustard, lemon juice, season with salt and set aside to cool
To finish the shallot rings, remove from the Madeira liquid and leave to dry on absorbent towel. Dust the shallot in flour and deep fry at 160˚C until golden brown. When ready, place on absorbent towel, season and leave in a warm place
  • plain flour
By this stage the snails should have finished braising. Remove from the vac pac and de-shell. Place the snail meat onto cocktail sticks and cool in the freezer. Whisk the garlic cream and dip the snails in the cream, returning to the freezer when done. Once the cream has set over the snails, remove from the sticks and re-roll. Make the pane mixture in three separate bowls, one with the whisked egg, one flour and the final with the panko breakcrumbs and black onion seed combination
Coat the snails in the egg wash, followed by the flour and lastly the panko mix. Deep fry until dark, golden brown
To assemble, add the warm onion purée to the middle of the plate, followed by the hot pig's tail, the snail bon bons and finally the red wine sauce. Garnish with the shallot rings and garlic cream
First published in 2015

Laurie Gear’s restaurant Artichoke isn’t just one of the most innovative kitchens in the Greater London area, it’s also one of the most resilient.

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