Cutting out meat has been fairly easy for me. I mainly cooked veggie dishes even before going vegetarian, so there was no sudden shift where it seemed like I couldn’t eat anything. It’s now been about six months and I don’t often crave meat (though watch me experience the worst meat cravings of my life after posting this). Usually when I do crave meat, it’s because I’m scrolling through Instagram and some beautiful meat dish pops up. Recently, I was hit with a pang of jealousy when I went to a French restaurant with a friend who was excited to get escargot. But if I’m being honest, the escargot sauce is what I was really after. So I started thinking about how I could replicate the dish without snails. The answer was simple: mushrooms.
Mushrooms have a similarly earthy taste and chewy texture to snails, so they seemed like the perfect substitute. And I was really happy with the end result. I removed the stems from mushroom caps, leaving the rest of the mushroom in tact in order to provide maximum space for the sauce to pool. This was a good idea. While you can prepare the dish with chopped mushrooms, I’d definitely recommend using caps if possible.
Because bread is a highly important part of any escargot dish, I decided to serve this in the form of a toast. It’s also great as a sandwich. I had to make this meal twice because the lighting was too poor to get decent pictures the first time around, so you can bet your ass I tried it both ways.
A note to picky eaters:
I’m aware that some people don’t like mushrooms. I get it – I used to be one of them. In fact, I don’t think I developed a taste for mushrooms until I was about 20. If you’re a mushroomphobe and don’t want to make this, I respect that. However, I will say that I forced this dish upon a friend, not knowing he didn’t like mushrooms, and he loved it. After he was done he confessed to being hesitant because he wasn’t a mushroom fan, but said that he was surprised by how much he liked it! So if your parents ruined mushrooms for you by throwing raw sliced mushrooms in salads, this might be a good way to give them another chance. Similarly, if you’ve always wanted to try escargot but the idea of eating snails made you want to gag, here’s a solution!
Faux Escargot Toast (3-4 portions):
- 1 stick butter at room temperature
- 12 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp white wine
- A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb mushroom caps (I used a mixture of white and cremini, but feel free to get creative)
- 1 large baguette
- Wash and dry your mushrooms, then pluck the stems out. Chop the stems into quarters, but be sure to leave the caps in tact. Then set it all to the side.
- Beat the butter (I like to use a stand mixer here) until it’s smooth. Then add the wine, salt, pepper and nutmeg and mix at medium speed until they’re incorporated. Now decrease the speed to low and throw your shallots, garlic and parsley in there. Mix until these dudes are just incorporated.
- Using a large pan, sauté the mushrooms and butter on medium heat until they’re sufficiently shriveled and tender. This should take about 15 minutes if you followed my advice about using the whole caps. If you chopped them up instead, it may be closer to 10 minutes.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, slice your baguette. It’s up to you whether you serve this as a sandwich or a toast. I prefer the toast version, but you really can’t go wrong here. Toast them a bit, and then add mushrooms and sauce!
And just like that, you’re done. Easy and delicious. If you make this at home, let me know how you enjoyed it!