Friday, 10 May 2013

Sambuca Cream Campfire Snails

Recently I was asked by a winter camping enthusiast, who otherwise enjoys fine dining: How do I prepare good food that can be enjoyed while winter camping? I'm a small town guy that now lives in the city and I"m happy to share my experiences.

I've learned of many opportunities in the city but have grown to appreciate the intangible things of the small town living I left behind. I certainly appreciate it more when I visit up north today. I grew up in Owen Sound, Collingwood and my home town of Orillia. All are located in the province of Ontario and at the southern tip of beautiful Georgian Bay. I'm no stranger to the great outdoors and roughing our Canadian four seasons. Iron and fire have been around for centuries and almost anything can be prepared when armed. Why, some of the best snails I've ever enjoyed were prepared over a campfire!

I spent 4yrs in Collingwood, ON when I was in elementary school. It's a small little town centered between gorgeous Wasega Beach and popular all season retreat, Blue Mountain. Some of my favorite memories are of wilderness there and everything imaginable outdoors. Our home was located rurally just off  HWY #26. I can remember waking on cool summer mornings to see people snail hunting in droves. All the way down our long gravel road you'd see people lugging their pails. Big white pails of  garden snails they collected from the dewy roadside rough.  All were in their rubber boots and wore back supporting belts. It was a peculiar sight for kid barely awake. I used to think they were all crazy! Now it's just a fond memory of something I was lucky enough to witness. It's a memory that can be appreciated of an ingredient that has inspired so many wonderful recipes.

I'm not suggesting you shine up your rubber duckies and start combing the roadside trenches. Snails are far more easy to buy canned in water at the grocery store. Although it might be a fun outing for friends and family, collecting snails is something that wouldn't be possible in relation to winter camping. Even if you were summer camping you'd hardly have time to prepare. Many of the toxins snails consume can be harmful for human ingestion. Snails have to be purged to safely avoid serious illness. A diet of lettuce leaves in a controlled environment, it's a process  that takes at least four weeks. You'd have to be the ultimate master of preparedness to properly ready your collection.

When I think of winter camping and the crisp northern air, I think about being huddled over a camp fire and absorbing the well needed heat. The best escargot in the winter fresh air is a sweet and creamy treat.  Something that will warm your belly and compliment a strong cup of black coffee. Sambuca cream campfire snails will be enjoyed by all that love good food.

You'll need:

2 cans snails, in water.
2 heaping cups fennel, cut into bite size chunks.
2 heaping cups leeks, chopped
1 tbsp butter
250 ml of 18% cream.
100 ml Sambuca (Not Black Sambuca)
pinch of salt and pepper

You won't be out in the winter cold too long without an active campfire. Use rocks to build a platform that will hold a BBQ grill. Get the fire nice and hot to create a bed of red hot coals. You have and iron pan and your ready for action.

Drain and rinse the snails and add them to a hot iron pan with butter. Start a nice sizzle.

Add fennel and leeks to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper. Give it a nice stir until the leeks are bright green, still crisp.

Add the Sambucca and burn off the alcohol. There will be a little storm before the calm.

Add the cream and stir it in. Let it bubble for 2mins.

This is a very easy recipe that tastes so amazing. Toast a baguette with butter and  sop up this delicious sauce. It's enough to properly serve four. It's like having desert for appetizer. This also works fantastically with mussels!



  1.! Never tried them.....interesting!!

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