Thursday, November 19, 2009
Plats du Chef Escargot in Brioche
Yes folks, Gigi does indeed not only eat snails, but she really likes to eat snails. I know many people think this is just gross. And having watched the little buggers get my front stoop all slimy with their booger trails, I totally understand that.
But much like Brussels sprouts, sometimes things that are kinda gross can be unbelievably good when properly prepared. Honestly, I have never attempted to cook escargot on my own, and I don't plan on doing it from scratch any time soon. But I assure you...when I see them on a menu, I will always order them (sadly, that happens less and less).
I found this offering from Plats du Chef in the frozen aisle at Trader Joe's, and I couldn't resist. Unlike my mostly hard-and-fast rules about frozen clams (and the rather bad results I got from that meal -- read all about it here), I have no such rule about escargot. I honestly have no idea how they come into restaurant kitchens. (For all I know they may be frozen.) And, as garlic butter is an essential part of good escargot, it looked fairly promising.
As a general rule, escargot is served in the snail shell. (You may remember the dinner scene from "Pretty Woman" where Julia Roberts flings one across the room.) Plats du Chef's version is served instead in an incredibly cute mini-brioche. If nothing else, these look really pretty on a plate. And since they are self-contained, they would make for easy party finger food.
The brioche itself is reasonably crispy. The garlic butter sauce clings to the inner sides...and who doesn't love butter and bread, especially buttery garlic bread? (The brioche on its own has no flavor beyond generic "bread.")
The butter sauce is sort of an alarming green that, in theory at least, comes from the herbs used in the sauce. Looks aside, the sauce is decent. Overly salty, perhaps, but garlicky and buttery. The duo combined made for a mini-version of your average supermarket garlic bread. Nothing wrong with it, just not special.
The snails? Meh. What I like about good escargot is that the snail seems a lot like a clam. The texture should be tender and just a little chewy. The meat tends to taste salty to me, and a little earthy. But these just tasted muddy. I understand that snails will taste like what they eat, and I do expect them to be earthy -- but there is a big leap from earthy to muddy. And in this case the texture is quite rubbery (perhaps from the freezing?).
All in all, it's not the worst thing I have ever eaten. The bread and the butter sauce were pleasant. The snails were just...yuck. No other word besides YUCK really works. To be fair, I was not expecting chef quality. It was under $3.00 and frozen, so expectations are necessarily lowered. But even with drastically lowered expectations, these snails were nasty.
If you've ever wanted to try escargot, please don't let this be your virgin attempt. Good escargot is nothing like this, and you would be tremendously missing out. If you are already a fan, this won't float your boat either. It may get you through if you simply have to have some but can't get another version.
But really, how often does that happen? All told...YUCK!!
Trader Joe's (I feel the need to stress that while I bought this item at Trader Joe's, this is not a TJ's branded product.)