There are some flavors and some smells that evoke forgotten memories and sensations. The smell of meat sauce takes me back to my childhood when my great-grandmother cooked for the whole family on Sundays. That scent was intoxicating…
And snails made their appearance on the table from time to time!
I tried to reconstruct the original recipe with all the procedures and all the necessary steps. The recipe is very long and elaborate... but don't lose heart, you won't regret it!!
I remember that the collection of snails in nature is strictly regulated. In some Italian regions it is not possible to collect snails in the summer period or after sunset. Always refer to the municipal offices in your area or to the hunting guard for further information.
Alternatively I recommend you buy farmed snails ... also because they are already purged.
- 1.5 kg of rigatelle snails already purged
- 2 onions
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 celery ribs
- 2 carrots
- 5 bay leaves
- 2 anchovies
- 100 g of bacon or 1 sausage
- 1 glass red wine
- 1 glass of vinegar
- coarse salt
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1 liter of tomato puree
Wash the snails quickly after removing them from the bags. Soak them in warm water for 3/4 hours in a pan with a lid. Little by little the snails will wake up from hibernation. Check the pot every half hour and gradually remove the live molluscs and transfer them to a new pot with a little water. At the end, throw away the remaining shells at the bottom.
Before cooking snails it is absolutely necessary to wash them carefully. Immerse the snails in water, a little vinegar and coarse salt. Leave them to soak for 10/15 minutes, then rub them between your hands. Repeat until the snails stop foaming (generally 4 washes are enough), changing the water each time. Rinse one last time with running water.
The snails should be boiled in lightly salted water with the addition of herbs (onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf) starting with cold water. The cooking time is variable and depends on the type of snail and size. For rigatelle, 30'/40' are generally sufficient.
Once finished, drain the water and rinse them again with running water. This last wash is not necessary... but I prefer it this way 🙂
Fry chopped celery, carrot, onion, parsley, rosemary, garlic, the two anchovies, the finely chopped bacon (or sausage) and the remaining whole bay leaves in extra virgin olive oil.
Add the snails and leave to brown, stirring often. Add a glass of red wine and let it evaporate over high heat.
Now add the tomato puree, the concentrate, the chilli pepper and salt to your liking.
Cook over moderate heat for at least 3 hours. The tomato must shrink and become a beautiful dark red color. The longer the cooking, the tastier and softer the snails will be.
Serve with toasted bread.
If you are unable to extract the snails from the shell, tap the bottom of the shell with the handle of the fork until it breaks slightly.