Tartine d’escargots de Barra a l’ail et persil


The day I went to Barra and everything changed.

Why would I buy farmed snails from France or Indonesia (where most of them come from) when I can source them directly from Scottish islands? Buying from Barra supports the island's economy and my restaurant customers love the idea of eating Scottish snails. It's a talking point.

So, anyone for a Barra snail tartine?

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Serves 6

  • 1kg fresh Barra snails – starved for three days

  • 1 or 2 handfuls of coarse sea salt

  • 3 litres of vegetable bouillon

  • 20cl beef demi-glace or brown stock

  • 2 carrots – finely diced

  • 2 small onions – finely diced

  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

  • 1 bouquet garni

  • 2 soup spoons of chopped parsley

  • 2 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 baguette – sliced

  • Sprinkle of fresh chives/parsley or a mixture of both

  • Coarse sea salt and pepper


1. Sprinkle the snails with the coarse salt and leave for 30 minutes. Drain, rinse and wash them under cold running water until clean.

2. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. When boiling, plunge your snails in for five minutes, remove them and immediately place them in icy water.

3. Drain, separate the shells from the snail meat using a toothpick and cut off the guts. Give them another wash.

4. Bring the vegetable bouillon to the boil, add in the snails, bring back to the boil and simmer for about two hours or until soft. Cool them down in the bouillon.

5. In a sauté pan, add butter and slowly sweat the diced onion for 10 minutes then add in the diced carrot. Sweat for another 10 minutes. Add your snails and sweat all together for five minutes, stirring all the time on a low heat.

6. Add in the beef stock, reduce then add in the chopped garlic and the parsley. Finish off the sauce with a knob of butter, taste and season, taste again and season again if needed. Pour into a dish and serve to your guests with slices of baguettes.

Enjoy with a glass of red wine. Bon appétit!

As published on Scotsman, 5 May 2015