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JFred

Escargot explosion—what happened?

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While dining out tonight, a celebratory birthday dinner for hubby, I ordered escargot.  Shell-less, they were presented in a circular dish with 6 divots that each held an escargot with pesto garlic butter filling up the divot.   The very hot dish was served with a warning that they were exceptionally hot (several of the divots’ liquid was still bubbling/boiling) and to let them cool.  I did so for a brief time (the garlic aroma was too enticing) and then cautiously broke off a small piece of toasted baguette to dip in a (non-bubbling)divot to enjoy a precursor of what flavors awaited once they cooled down more.  The second my bread touched the butter, the ‘divot’ EXPLODED, propelling the escargot out of the divot and the hot butter onto my glasses, forehead, hair and sweater!  It actually made a pop noise, a bit like a champagne uncorking.  I came across this forum in hopes of an explanation and I can only surmise that the 20%water content of the butter superheated within the butter-filled divot.  Why would touching it with the toast cause the explosion?  BTW, Chef very apologetic and comped my meal.  Thank goodness I had glasses on as my left eye would’ve been a casualty

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It probably released some water/juice from the escargot. 


That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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I wonder if that had happened at the restaurant before?  Probably not otherwise why would they continue to serve the dish so hot.  Wow, you were very lucky not to have burns on your face.

Found this:

 

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=7a2dbe9c-b396-4ef7-bc70-b5334f49df1f

 

 

"According to the restaurant owner, the incident never happened and escargot does not explode. Still, some in the industry have characterized “escargot explosion” as a “rare but periodic phenomenon” that can be attributed to air bubbles trapped inside the shells during preparation. "

 

But yours had no shell.

 

Here's another one:

https://www.mycarforum.com/forums/topic/2671201-stomper-scalded-by-exploding-escargot/

 

"It has happened before and apparently this explosion is caused by 'butter and water in the escargot reacting' and 'nothing could be done to prevent this from occurring'.

 

So, the takeaway is be careful.


Edited by Okanagancook Wrong paste of info on the second quote. (log)
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From Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook:

 

Warning on Snails

It is a peculiar feature of snalls that occasionally they like to explode, spitting a boiling-hot, napalm-like mixture of snail fluid and molten butter at your face and genital region while cooking — and often in the moments after cooking. If you are accustomed to cooking while naked, I would strongly suggest covering strategic areas with an apron and keeping your face out of the way during the crucial time periods.

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I have had this happen both in a broiler and under a salamander (I had a Garland range back in the '70s with a salamander)  and when plating the little suckers on a pre-warmed serving dish. 

Some snails have cavities in their bodies which contain small amounts of liquid and this becoms superheated during cooking and turns into steam and as it is under pressure, just a slight touch on the now pressurized spot will cause it to burst.

 

When I took a course in French Cuisine from Chef Gregoire in the '60s, his explanation of this phenomena was hilarious and I wish I could recall it.  He loved serving snails to patrons who were obviously unfamiliar with them but were putting on a pretentious act.  He described one woman who asked if they could be served without the garlic butter but with another sauce that wasn't as strong!  When the server told her that was the only way escargot were prepared in this restaurant, she made some remark about having had them at some well known restaurant "back east" that didn't serve them in garlic butter.  The server apparently suggested she order something different but she became huffy and left with her companion. There were always people waiting for the chance of an open table, so no problem.  When he told us in the class the story a couple of days later, he said perhaps my food is not to the liking of such as that one but there are many, even among the hoi polloi who appreciate good food.

We were preparing to  do Escargots à la Bourguignonne  and this was my first time handlinng snails that were for eating.  

It made me eye the giant snails that dined on my dichondra lawn every night with considerable interest, although I never attempted to cook and eat one.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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My favorite Madeleine Kamman story if from When French Women Cook. She was living in Paris with her grandmother. She was quite young. The live snails had been put into a clay pot and covered with a weighted plate to force them to "build their window".:

 

"One boring Sunday afternoon I succumbed to the temptation to remove the weight. By 7 o'clock when we came back from some venture the walls were decorated with the visible trails of climbing snails. I got spanked, hated live snails forever for doing me in, and felt vindicated when they appeared in soups or sizzling in pastry shells"


Edited by heidih (log)
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This is possible:

 

Boiling point of water is 212F

Smoking point of fat(butter) can be from 300F to 400F.

If fat is collected in one place and water in another in food, and both get cooked at the same time in high heat (oven, microwave), and if by chance the water is  mixed into fat, explosion will happen.

 

You see this all the time when you fry food.

 

dcarch

 

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I prefer to think of it as revenge of the gastropods.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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1 hour ago, kayb said:

I prefer to think of it as revenge of the gastropods.

 

 

Yes, that's a good way it can slug back in revenge.

 

dcarch:D

 

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not unlike the "exploding (fill in the blank)" done in a microwave.

the water/liquid gets superheated, all it needs is a nucleation site to turn from super-heated water to steam.

1 drop of water expands 660 times in volume turning to steam. 

that's about 42 "cups" of steam - in microseconds.

you will definitely be wearing something, hot something(s).....

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