Not Too Haute: Heston Blumenthal's "Fat Duck" Snail Porridge Recipe

July 19, 2012 6:12 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Snail Butter
Fat Duck's "Snail Porridge" in the comfort of your own comfort zone. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Heston Blumenthal may very well be my favorite chef (sorry, Ms. Paltrow). His approach to cooking gels ever-so perfectly with my approach to eating, marrying the dazzlingly strange with the undeniably comforting. And when it comes to the considerable menu of the famous Fat Duck restaurant in London, no dish is as enticing to the mouth eating it or as rewarding to the home cook replicating it as Mr. Blumenthal's Snail Porridge recipe.

Here's how we do this.

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1. Find your snails.

Whole Foods probably carries them, but barring that, you're on your own. Just don't do what I once did and catch the ones in your backyard for cooking. Admittedly, I was much younger when I attempted this, and I was lucky that my parents found out before I poisoned my whole family.

Whatever the case may be, Blumenthal recommends about twelve snails per person. That's a lot of snails. Feel free to reduce this number as you see fit.

2. Prepare a snail stock.

Whoa, right? When did FoodNRecipe get this fancy?

Add however many snails you have to a pan of boiling water. Return the water back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer. Once simmering, add the following, finely sliced: one carrot, one onion, one fennel bulb, one stick of celery, 3.5 ounces of button mushrooms, 2 cloves of garlic, and one bouquet garni made from bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary.

Simmer for three hours. Remove and reserve the snails. Reserve the delicious stock as well.

3. Prepare the snail butter.

Place the following in a food processor: 1.5 ounces of Parma ham, a fourth cup of palsy, .75 ounces of ground almonds, 1 ounce of Dijon mustard, three garlic cloves minced and cooked, button mushrooms minced and cooked, and shallots minced and cooked. 

Rub the mix through a fine-meshed sieve, then mix it into some softened butter. Form it into a cylinder and place it into the fridge to harden.

4. Prepare the porridge.

Remember that beautiful stock? You're going to use it to cook the oatmeal. Use however much as you need, reserving the rest in the freezer. Once the oats have absorbed all the stock, whisk in the snail butter.

5. Sautee the snails.

Brown the snails in butter (not your snail butter) and drain.

6. Plate.

Spoon the porridge into a bowl. Top each bowl with sliced parma ham. Top each slice of ham with the sauteed snail. Top the ham and the snails with fennel that's been tossed in sherry and walnut oil. Serve.

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