For the snails and sauce:
- 100ml chicken stock
- 20 cooked snails
- 20 pieces of wonton pastry
- Baguette, sliced and lightly toasted
- 4 slices of Bayonne ham
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tomato, cut into 5mm dice, to garnish
- Handful of cress, to garnish
For the garlic butter:
- 200g unsalted butter
- 10g garlic
- 15g flat-leaf parsley
- 1 anchovy fillet
- 1 teaspoon Pernod
For the spice paste:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 60g shallots, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 12g fresh root ginger, finely chopped
- 1/2 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
- 1 stick of lemongrass, bashed
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce, or to taste
For the snail mix:
- 100g chicken breast, roughly chopped
- 50g spice paste
- Start by making the garlic butter: place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined, then remover and set aside.
- For the spice paste, heat a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil, then the onion, shallot, garlic and ginger. Sweat until softened but not coloured, then add the chilli pepper, lemon grass and lime leaf. Add the turmeric and toast to release its aroma, then add the fish sauce slowly - it can be quite strong - and reduce to a syrup. Transfer to a food processor and process to make a paste.
- To make the snail mix, place the chicken and spice paste in a food processor, then add 100g of the garlic butter. Chill until firm.
- To make a sauce, bring the stock to the boil and bubble to reduce it by half. Cut 75g of the garlic butter into cubes. Whisk a few cubes into the reduced stock, then continue to add it in this until it has all been incorporated.
- To assemble the ravioli, combine a snail with no more than one teaspoon of the snail mix in your palm. Roll into a ball and wrap inside a piece of wonton pastry. Wet the sides of the pastry and fold it up around the snail. Repeat with the remaining snails and pastry. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil add the ravioli and simmer for about four minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- To serve, coat the centre of each heated plate in sauce, plate a slice of baguette in the middle topped with a slice of ham, and five ravioli around it. Garnish with the tomatoes and cress.
"Besides fishing trips, as a boy I used to accompany my grandfather on his night-time hunts for snails. We would take torches and head out to the undergrowth to root around for the petit gris - the south-west's indigenous variety. Often my grandmother would send me home with a parcel of our prize and then my mother would cook them either with white wine, tomatoes, lots of garlic and Bayonne ham, or in the more classic way, with a savoury garlic butter.
This recipe is a modern twist on my mother's originals. By wrapping the snails in a wonton pastry, the presentation is a bit more elegant but the flavours are just as I remember from my childhood. In all honesty, with snails, the experience is mostly about the garlic and the butter rather than the meat itself, but I still think of snails as a delicacy. Sadly, most of those are now served in French restaurants are imported from Eastern Europe - Burgundy snails are protected by a law which prevents them being harvested during the reproductive season - but in the UK there are some excellent snail producers. I buy snails that have been cooked in stock (broth), the vacuum-packed." - Pierre Koffmann