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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hedgehog Mushrooms

Not all mushrooms are created equal.  It's true.  There are the "normal" ones that you find anywhere, and then there are the special ones that make your eyes sparkle and your salivary glands alert.  Cêpes, for example, are on the special list.  They are big, meaty, and have enormous flavor..but they are outrageously expensive unless you find them youself.  Other favorites of mine are the trumpet looking ones.  Black trumpettes, Chanterelles, and Girolles.  I love the way they release their flavor and aroma into my haven of pleasure.  What I don't like about them is that they are difficult to clean.  Mushrooms should be wiped with a damp'cloth or'lightly rinsed, but never soaked, for it appears they lose some of their flavor.  It is the longest part about preparing wild mushrooms.. Unless you don't mind eating twigs, dried leaves, or dirt.. Which I don't.
This is where the superiority of the hedgehog mushroom comes in.  These large and somewhat flat topped mushrooms, also called Mutton's Foot (Pied de Mouton in French) have all the flavor of the beloved Girolles, but are much bigger and easy to clean.  The bigger they are, the fewer you have to clean, which is great news.
They also have this incredible meaty texture that stays firm through cooking.  When sliced, they look like little angels with feathers under their wings.  I'm always quite impressed with the cross-sectional beauty of things.  The fuzzy little underarms and the clean white flesh make me so giddy with excitement!
As all good quality mushrooms, they don't need much adornment.  Sautéed in some olive oil, duck fat, or butter with garlic and a pinch of fleur de sel and some cracked black pepper is all they need.  They will release their divine nectar, and then absorb most of it back.  Some like to add a drizzle of cream or some freshly chopped parsley, which give them a nice last touch if needed.
They make a perfect side dish to any meal.. Or as the star of a main vegetarian dish, such as an omlet or a risotto.
The taste of these hedgehog shrooms just blew me away.  I had never tried them before for some unknown reason, but they rank very high on my preferred mushroom list with cêpes and black trumpets.  I probably won't give chanterelles a second glance now that I've discovered these hedgehogs!
Serves 3 as a side
450g (1 lb) hedgehog mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil or butter or duck fat
few pinches fleur de sel
lots of cracked black pepper
1.  Place the oil in a wide heavy based pan and heat to very high.
2.  Lay the shroom slices in one layer with the minced garlic, without overlapping.  Cook in batches to make sure they sautée well and not steam.
3.  Let cook for about 1-2 minutes before stirring, then add the fleur de sel and black pepper.  Cook until the juices release, and then are re-absorbed.  This may take 5-7 minutes per batch.
I served mine alongside some roasted chicken legs and carrot sticks.

This was amazing.. in the American sense of the word...

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