Origin: Broadly distributed throughout North America and Europe and found singly or in groups in coniferous forests or woodlands.
Etymology: see below Hydnaceae family, Homobasidiomycetae class.
A fall mushroom that cannot be confused with any other. It is the only one to have a thick cap covering a mass of small pointed foamy outgrowths: small protruding teeth-like spines, rather than the gills and pores common to other fungi – hence its name.
The color varies from cream to reddish-orange. The stem is short and often paler. The mushroom contains an inner flesh that is firm, bright white in color and with a sweetly aromatic smell.
The best are young specimens, which are much more flavorful.
The hedgehog mushroom is a variety of fungi that is best served fresh rather than preserved, and should be eaten within 10 days of being picked for the best flavor.
Smaller specimens can be cooked whole or sliced.
With larger specimens, remove the spines; although edible, they look like small hairs and could spoil the appearance of the finished dish.
Since the texture of hedgehog mushrooms is somewhat dry, it is best to cook them slowly. They can be prepared to be served with meat, fish and poultry dishes or used as an ingredient in vegetable dishes, soups, stews, pasta and sauces.
Cook in a dry skillet until they have given off their liquid. Brown in butter, oil, or a mixture of the two. Serve in a fricassée with pan-seared sweetbreads and shallots.
Older mushrooms should be blanched first to remove their slight bitterness.
In sautés, stews or stuffing or as a side dish for meats.
Add some chopped cooked and raw ham, grated Gruyère, heavy cream, finely chopped parsley, a touch of nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Hedgewood Mushroom and Potato Casserole
The gentle flavors of hedgehogs and potatoes combined with the smoky flavor of bacon make this an interesting dish.
In a buttered casserole dish, place 2 sliced potatoes and 1/4 cup heavy cream. Add 1 pound sliced hedgehog mushrooms and cover with 2 sliced potatoes. Cover and bake in a preheated 375º F oven for 25 minutes. Add chives, paprika, and 1/4 cup milk. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese and 4 bacon slices, chopped. Return to the oven, uncovered this time, and bake at 375º F for another 20 minutes.
Hedgehog mushrooms make a nice addition to a veal blanquette: simmer some cubed veal with pieces of carrot, an onion stuck with 2 cloves and a bouquet garni for 1 hour 10 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook another 20 minutes longer.
In another saucepan, combine 2 tbsp. butter with an equal amount of flour. When the mixture foams, add the juice of a lemon and 2 cups of cooking liquid from the veal and simmer for 10 minutes over low heat. In a bowl, whisk together 2 egg yolks and 1/2 cup cream, then add to the sauce. Pour the sauce over the drained meat in the casserole and cook another 5 minutes over very low heat. Serve with rice.
Photo : Ponderosa Mushrooms, BC, Canada
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