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Feeling sluggish? Why not try escargot

There’s just something about the French that I adore.  Maybe it’s because of my namesake; mayhap I long to understand my lineage long-removed from the old country.  The first Souplis, Andres, landed in America in 1962.  It wasn’t long before the name was Anglicized closer to the name as we know it today.
French class is one of my favorites to teach, although I must say that teaching it one night a week for six weeks is next to impossible.  There are signature dishes, to be sure, but the country is so vast and the culinary traditions so deep, that it is very difficult to give even a skimming of teachings on French food.  But every year, when I teach about the southwest corner of the country, I reunite with an old friend: a la Perigourdine.  But more on that later.
I’m sorry that you have to suffer through this, but every now and then I have to write about something that I know most people will not cook.  The time and the ingredients alone will be an immediate turn-off for many of the readers out there.  Of course, the fact that I’m writing about slugs might have something to do with it as well.
OK, maybe they’re not slugs, but rather snails, or escargots.  But this classical French combination transcends normal escargots and brings it to a whole new level of cool for me.
When things are cooked “a la Perigourdine,”or in the style of Perigord, there are a few essential ingredients that find themselves in the dish: black truffle, ham and walnuts.  “Walnuts with snails?” you may ask yourself.  Yes, walnuts with snails.  Slimy, sidewalk-trekking garden snails.  And they are delicious.
Now, not being one to leave my reader hanging on the cusp of confusion as to where to find the sundry provisions to make this dish, all I need to do is to direct you to great online sources for these goods; for the truffle salt and for the rest.  The latter, named for that famed, rascally fourth Musketeer, is home to a great many French gourmet products and one of my favorite places to shop for retail goods.  
As for the truffle salt, all I have to do is get you to try it.  Yes, it is pungent and yes, a little goes a long way.  But the results are gorgeous, and at school we have been known to use it on grilled meats, vegetables, soups, terrines, fried foods and more.  It is simply an amazing seasoning to use.
And when you make your escargots a la Perigourdine, make sure that you have a nice bottle of Pinot Noir on hand.  The lighter, red wine will complement the duck, truffle salt and garlic well and leave you with a pairing made in heaven.  You can sit back and hear the words of Athos, another Musketeer, as he muses on the mysteries of life:
“Life is a chaplet of little miseries which the philosopher counts with a smile. Be philosophers, as I am, gentlemen; sit down at the table and let us drink. Nothing makes the future look so bright as surveying it through a glass of chambertin.”
Slugs Perigourdine
Serves 6 guests
1 can Escargot
Sliced black truffle
3 oz. country ham, fine julienne
10 oz. Garlic butter (recipe follows)
1/4 c. Walnut halves
6 oz. Duck confit (recipe follows)
Truffle salt, as needed

Divide the escargots evenly between six ramekins or if you’re lucky enough to own escargot dishes or shells, use them.  I don’t bother with them, so do as you wish.
Top the escargot with the shaved truffle, ham, garlic butter and walnuts.
Top this with the duck confit and bake until heated throughout.
Taste and season accordingly with the truffle salt.  This is powerful stuff, so go easy.  But, once you get a taste for it, you will probably always keep it around.
Garlic Butter
Makes about 1 quart
1 lb. unsalted butter
1 head garlic, smashed and minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 c. Italian parsley, chiffonade
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Beat the butter to soften until it is well-whipped.
Add remaining ingredients and season to taste.
Refrigerate until needed or leave out if you are using soon.
Duck Confit
Yields 6 duck legs
1/4 c. Kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, fine julienne
Thyme, as needed
Cracked black pepper
6 duck legs
Duck fat, as needed

Yes, this takes a couple of days to make, but it is so worth it!  Plus, it freezes beautifully, especially if you vacuum pack it.
Salt the duck legs well and place in a single layer in a tight pan.
Top with garlic, shallot, thyme and pepper and press down, covering well with plastic wrap.
Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 36 hours.
Rinse very well and place back in the pan with the duck fat (you know?  The stuff that you have just laying around your house).
Roast at 225F for about 3 hours, or until the meat pulls right off the bone.  Drain the oil, straining and reserving for your next batch and when cool enough to handle, shred the duck.
Refrigerate or freeze until needed, or use immediately.