This recipe description is taken from "The Art of British Cooking", by Theodora Fitzgibbon (no longer in print). The recipe itself is by my grandfather, Paul Leyton (1914-1998).
Rather ironically, my grandfather was proud of the fact that he'd never tried his recipe. He came up with the recipe, and was told by a french customer - a bit of a fan of escargot - that his recipe was superb. It was added to the menu of his restaurant, "The Miners Arms" (Priddy, Somerset, in the UK, now sadly closed), and my grandfather subsequently became a bit of an authority on snails. One of his many claims to fame was appearing on BBC TV, and featuring a full page picture in the Radio Times, with some of his snails.
I would add a note of caution. If you're going to try this recipe, be very careful of the snails you use. You want Helix Aspersa, and not just any snail you may find in the garden. Check and double check. Important: You should also put the snails on a carefully controlled
diet to purge them, ideally something like cornmeal, for a week or so before you plan to use them. You should take them
off all food at least two or three days before you plan to use them.
It may come as a surprise to see snails mentioned in a British cookery book, but they have been eaten for many centuries in the west country. In the eighteenth century they were thought to be very good for backward children. In the London Gazette of 23rd March 1739 there is a long account of a £5,000 reward having been paid to Joanna Stephens for her tried and approved pills made from calcined snail and egg shells, mixed with fat and honey.
The large edible snail, Helix pomatia, was said to have been introduced into England by the romans, but the smaller garden snail, Helix aspersa, is far superior in flavour and succulence. This is on the authority of Mr Paul Leyton, of the Miners' Arms, Priddy, near Wells, Somerset, right in the Mendip Hills, where snails are a popular and regular dish with the patrons of that hotel.
Here's Paul Leyton's recipe.
When ready to be prepared the snails (at least 1-1 1/2 dozen per person) should be immersed in water to which about 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon has been added. After about 6 hours add 2 more tablespoons of salt, and after another 6, or overnight, a further 2 more.
The snails should remain immersed for 24-36 hours, after which they should be drained, and all the snails will be dead. The lid must be kept on all the time, and any snails which have crawled up the sides must be put back in the brine.
Two large saucepans must now be prepared half full with boiling water (about 2-3 pints), and the snails put in for about 5 minutes, first in one saucepan, with a tablespoon salt, and then in the other, during which time the water must be boiling furiously. This serves to clean the snails, and the reason for the two saucepans is that one serves as the wash and the other as the rinse. The snails should be drained and rinsed under the tap for a minute or two. Now the snails are ready to be finally simmered and served with their sauce.
For the Court Bouillon2 pints water
1 pint dry draught cider or dry white whine
sprig of tarragon
3 small sliced onions
3 small sliced carrots
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
pepper and salt
For the Sauce1/2 lb. butter
2 tablespoons finely grated Cheddar Cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon each dill, fennel, chervil, chives, lemon balm, finely chopped.
1/2 teaspoon lemon thyme finely chopped.
For the court bouillon bring all ingredients to the boil, add the snails and simmer slowly for 4 hours. Then remove the snails and cool, mouth down, on a wire rack.
For the sauce all ingredients should be beaten together and gently warmed. To fill snails with sauce, the snail is held in the left hand and nearly pulled out of its shell, the sauce is then forced into the shell with a small spoon. When full the snail is pressed back into the shell, and the snails put mouth up until the sauce sets.
To serve they are put on to a snail plate and put either into a hot oven for a few minutes to heat through, or under a hot grill to get sizzling hot. They are served with thinly sliced brown bread and butter.
The recipe should, once and for all, squash the legend that the English don't take time and trouble with their cooking!
This recipe description is taken from "The Art of British Cooking", by Theodora Fitzgibbon (no longer in print). The recipe itself is from Paul Leyton.
My original link is here, but presented here for your delication.