SNAIL-PIZZA() - ESCARGOT AND CHANTERELLE PIZZA

ESCARGOT AND CHANTERELLE PIZZA - A pizza-like dish smothered in escargot and mushrooms

I was recently at a potluck party where everyone was asked to bring an interpretation of ``French pizza''—of what pizza would have tasted like if it had been invented in France instead of in Brooklyn. I concocted this dish for the occasion, and it was a success. If you aren't sure you like escargot, this is not the dish to experiment with!

INGREDIENTS (1 large pizza)

(1 recipe)
French bread dough (Craig Claiborne's French bread recipe works best for this.)
(10 oz)
small French snails (The smaller the better. Burgundy snails taste best to me.)
(2 oz)
dried Chanterelle mushrooms
(1.5 lbs.)
Raclette cheese (shredded).
(8 oz)
tomato sauce
(2 cloves)
fresh garlic
(2 Tbsp.)
fresh parsley
(1/2 lb.)
butter

PROCEDURE

(1)
Make the French Bread dough recipe at least 1 day beforehand if you can. Roll the dough out into the shape of a pizza, put it on a pizza pan,and set it aside. It will keep in the refrigerator overnight.
(2)
Prepare the dried mushrooms according to published recipes (soak, wash, cut, resoak, wash, drain).
(3)
If the snails are too large (larger than a garlic clove), then cut them in pieces. Drain the snails well. Melt the butter in a baking dish, add the snails, crushed garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, and ground black pepper to taste.
(4)
Put the bread-dough pan on the top rack of the oven and the snails on the bottom rack of the oven, and cook them both for 10 minutes. Take them out.
(5)
Spread the tomato sauce in an even layer on the bread, then sprinkle the Raclette cheese over it. Add the snails, and then the mushrooms. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
(6)
Bake at 425 in the top rack for 12 minutes (bottom rack will burn the crust).

NOTES

The first time I made this recipe I made it with morel mushrooms. Their flavor overwhelmed even the garlic snails. It was good, but it didn't have the balance I was looking for. Chanterelles seem to fit better. If you're unable to find or afford chanterelles, you can substitute Chinese straw mushrooms, which are available in cans wherever Chinese groceries are sold. European dried mushrooms seem always to have rocks and dirt in them; Asian dried mushrooms never do. I guess the Asians wash them better before they dry them. It's impossible to get all of the rocks out.

Raclette cheese is so much better than any other kind of cheese in this recipe that it is worth looking for. If you absolutely cannot get it, use fondue cheese or a Gruyere.

Raw butter also tastes more ``authentic'' in this recipe. What you really want to use is Normandy butter, but it's hard to get in North America. Alta Dena raw butter is available in California; it makes a noticeable difference in the flavor of the escargot. I don't know of any other states in which it is legal to buy raw butter.

CONTRIBUTOR

Brian Reid glacier!reid
Stanford reid@Glacier.ARPA