Snail Porridge

Snail Por-ridge

/snāl/ /pôrij/ noun

snail porridge 2

A gang of wild burgundy snails sitting in the pantry began calling. Each time I walked past the taunts grew louder and the name calling began, daring me to respond. It was tempting to bake those suckers using my favorite escargot recipe, but I hesitated. I hesitated because I wanted something different, as that loud, brash tin of delicacies challenged me to find the way.

Dining with Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck is part of our summer travel plan. So, it’s no coincidence that posts about him began popping up in my news feed. One was about his infamous snail porridge. It solved my dilemma and gave those rowdy, disrespectful snails what they deserved.

The Snail Porridge Recipe

Heston teases us with a video and it was enough of a push to make me stumble down the rabbit-hole.

Blumenthal claims to make the dish in three minutes, but fails to disclose the hours upon hours of preparation that begin a month in advance.  He makes his own “ham”, salt curing duck breast in a dry cellar. I live in the middle of the Mississippi flyway, but I’m not about to shoot, clean and salt cure my own duck. Therefore my first deviation from his recipe uses Kentucky country ham.

Several experimental cooks later I had the nagging thought it could be better if only I had his complete recipe. So, I purchased his cookbook and opened it, revealing an entirely new can of worms.

Special Equipment

The kitchen at Fat Duck enjoys the use of very expensive, specialized equipment. It ranges from commonplace temperature probes and sous-vide to a $7,000 Swiss made Pacojet and a $15,000 rotary distillation evaporator. In between are scales, vacuum chambers, freeze-dryers, refractometers, ph meters and a centrifuge.



European and pastry chefs specify quantities by weight, instead of measures like cups and spoons. Think about parsley or flour that depend upon how tightly the cup is packed. Using weight (usually grams) instead, will give you the identical quantity time after time. It makes a difference if you want repeatable results and sometimes determines success or failure of a recipe.

Chicken Bouillon

finished rotisserie chicken stock for snail porridgeBlumenthal uses chicken “bouillon” for this recipe and it’s not your store bought cubes in a jar. No, he means chicken stock and it is the most familiar of recipes using all the usual suspects (ingredients). Here is another deviation in my re-creation of his snail porridge. I make a particularly delicious stock with roasted chicken and happened to have a fresh batch in the fridge. Make this in advance and you can find my recipe HERE.

Helix Pomatia

The snails, oh the snails. Helix pomatia, a.k.a. Burgundy or Roman snails are commonly called escargot on countless restaurant menus. Of course, Heston begins with live snails, but they are (thank goodness) illegal to possess in the United States without special permits.

Removing the intestines and white sac of live snails is a messy and tedious task. I don’t want any part of it and I don’t know why anyone would unless they could delegate it to someone else, like a kitchen assistant. Because they are illegal here, I use imported pre-cooked, canned wild burgundy escargot.

Parsley Butter

This is an important element and Heston uses a Pacojet to micro-puree frozen parsley butter. It creates the smoothest possible emulsion, but my budget won’t pay for a Pacojet. It forced me to find a workaround that would achieve similar, acceptable results. I use a beurre monte method of melting butter without separating the water, fat and solids. I then use a high speed blender to integrate the ingredients and achieve an excellent texture. Make the parsley butter in advance.

chopped parsley

Chopped Parsley

beurre monte melted butter
Beurre monte melted butter


Diced mushrooms
Diced mushrooms


ground almonds
Ground almonds


Kentucky country ham – brunoise cut

cooking shallots

Cook the shallots over indirect heat in a heavy bottom pot for 30 minutes

Finished shallots


blended parsley butter
Blended parsley butter with the cooked shallots, mushrooms and ham


finished parsley butter for snail porridge
Finished Parsley butter


parsley butter log
Parsley butter log


Parsley Butter

Concentrated parsley butter with shallot, mushrooms and Kentucky country ham

  • Author: Tim
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 55
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


  • 96 grams curly leaf parsley – about 2 bunches – chopped
  • 1 TBL water
  • 220 grams (2 sticks) unsalted high fat Irish butter – cut into tablespoons and chilled
  • 16 grams porcini or cremini mushrooms – diced to .4 inch cubes
  • 16 grams marcona almonds – finely ground
  • 4 grams freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 grams sea salt
  • 20 grams dijon mustard
  • 34 grams blanched garlic – minced
  • 32 grams Kentucky country ham – brunoise into 3/32nd inch squares
  • 24 grams shallot – brunoise into 3/32nd inch squares


  1. Reserve 10 grams of butter (about 1 pat) and set aside.
  2. Melt 20 grams of butter (about 1 tablespoon) in a small heavy bottom pot and saute the garlic until pale gold and fragrant
  3. Place the chopped parsley, ground almonds, lemon juice, sauteed garlic, mustard and salt into a blender
  4. Create a beurre monte by whisking together 1 tablespoon of water and the remaining butter over very low heat, constantly whisking and adding one tablespoon of butter at a time until it is combined. This prevents separation of the fats, water and solids in the butter
  5. Pour the melted butter in the blender and blitz on high speed until the parsley is pulverized. Wipe down the sides with a spatula and repeat blending two more times. Transfer the parsley butter to a bowl and set aside
  6. Place the reserved pat of butter into the pot used to saute the garlic and saute the mushrooms over lowest heat, stirring intermittently until caramelized – about 15 minutes and set aside
  7. Wipe out the pot and saute the shallots in a pat of butter over very low, gentle heat until very soft and translucent – about 30 minutes. Tip: when the pot is hot, move it almost completely off the flame and stir occasionally without leaving the shallots over direct heat
  8. Fold the shallots, mushrooms and ham into the parsley butter, then cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use. Optionally, when it is chilled enough transfer to a plastic wrap, form a log and wrap it up with twisted ends and refrigerate.


This quantity of parsley butter is far more than necessary for the snail porridge recipe, but is the minimum quantity that will properly blend in my machine. Reserve the rest to enjoy on top a grilled steak or in other recipes.

Braising the Snails

Live snails need to be cooked and a slow braise will both flavor and tenderize them. It’s an integral part of The Fat Duck recipe, but unnecessary for pre-cooked and cleaned, canned snails. I made this dish both ways, with and without braising using canned escargot to test the results. Here is how I braised them if you want to try it yourself, but I confirmed it was not needed to complete the recipe.

Ready to add the wine and braise the snails

Braising Snails

Slow cooking snails in wine with vegetables and herbs

  • Author: Tim
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 180
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24 1x


  • 24 premium French burgundy snails
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 large yellow onion – halved
  • 1 carrrot – sliced lengthwise
  • 1 leek – sliced in half lengthwise, white only
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1 bulb garlic – top cut off
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 oz water
  • 8 oz dry white wine


  1. Rinse the snails and pre-heat oven to 285 degrees
  2. Stick a clove into each half of the onion, then place all the vegetables, herbs, water and wine in a casserole dish and bring it to a simmer on the stove
  3. Add the snails, cover the dish and bake for 3 hours
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove, refrigerate and reserve until ready to use

Snail Porridge Garnish – Fennel Salad

Fennel salad is the final garnish for our snail porridge. It is easy enough to make, presenting only a small challenge slicing it thin enough and finding the specified vinaigrette ingredients. Neither of my mandolines would slice the fennel thin enough to read through, so I invested in a new one. $75 and a few days later I received a Japanese Benriner that is infinitely adjustable. I could not find walnut vinegar locally, but have walnut oil in the pantry, so I reversed the recipe and combined the oil with red wine vinegar. It made a delicious vinaigrette.

slicing fennel

Fennel Salad Print

Fennel Salad

Lightly tart, anise flavored salad with fennel and vinaigrette

  • Author: Tim
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Tablespoons 1x


  • 1 fresh fennel bulb
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper – to taste


  1. Rinse and trim off the rough bottom and the green fronds, then cut it in half
  2. Shave it paper-thin and discard the outer leaf shavings, retaining the inner, whitest portion
  3. Make the vinaigrette in a small bowl with the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper
  4. Toss the fennel in the vinaigrette and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use

Finishing the Snail Porridge

snail porridge ingredients

Finishing ingredients oats, parsley butter. chicken stock, salt and pepper.

Proscuitto ham – brunoise cut


sauteed snails for snail porridge
Sauteed snails

snail porridge 2 Print

Snail Porridge

Escargot with parsley butter porridge, shaved ham and fennel salad

  • Author: Tim


  • 10 snails
  • 6 TBL chicken stock
  • 4 TBL rolled oats – shaken in a chinoise or colander to remove powder
  • 21/2 TBL parseley butter
  • Sea salt – to taste
  • Ground black pepper – to taste
  • 2 oz prociutto – cut into chiffonade
  • Fennel salad – garnish
  • Fleur de sel – garnish


  1. Portion the parsley butter and bring to room temp. Fill a squeeze bottle with chicken stock and bring to room temp. Portion and shake the oats in a chinoise or colander
  2. Use pre-sliced, paper thin prosciutto and slice it chiffonade style into thin strips
  3. Rinse off the cooked canning liquid from the snails, then sautee them in butter for 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm
  4. Heat a saucepan over medium low heat and add 4 tablespoons of chicken stock, then the oats. Stir briefly and cook until the oats have absorbed almost all the stock, about 2-3 minutes. Add 2 more tablespoons of stock and stir briefly, 1 more minute
  5. Add the soft parsley butter and stir until melted and incorporated. Raise the pan off the heat if necessary to avoid over cooking. Add another squirt of stock if the oats become too tight
  6. Remove from heat and adjust salt and pepper to taste
  7. Divide and plate the porridge, place the chiffonade ham in the center, then place 5 snails around the edges of the porridge. Garnish with the fennel salad and a light sprinkle of fleur de sel