Most of the time, I end up figuring out what recipe I want to cook for the Historical Food Fortnight challenges as they come up. But the recipe for the latest challenge, #9 Mock Foods, has been something I have wanted to do for a while… fake Hedgehogs! Hedgehogs are adorably cute creatures. It turns out that the fake ones are pretty cute too.
Oh, and no real hedgehogs were harmed in the making of this subtlety.
The Challenge: #9 Mock Foods (foods that look like something else)
The Recipe: Hedgehogs, from Take a Thousand Eggs or More and the Coquinaria blog. The original recipe that is quoted in both of those locations is found in a fifteenth century English manuscript, Harleian 279, on page 38.
Take a Thousand Eggs and the Coquinaria blog parse this out into English for those of us who can’t read ye olde English very well.
The basic recipe is that you take ground pork and season it with Spicerye (my new favorite word), ginger, salt, and sugar. You then sew this into a pig’s stomach, roast, and glaze with wheat flour and almond milk. But before you glaze, you put in slivers of candied almonds as the spines. Then you throw it back into the oven for the glaze to set.
The Date/Year and Region: 15th century, English
Time to Complete: With prep time and cooking, about two hours.
Total Cost: $9. The pork was on sale and ended up being about $3 a pound and I used two pounds. The almonds were $3 for a bag, if I remember right.
How Did You Make It: Pig’s stomach is rare, if not impossible to get a hold of. I didn’t even try. I contemplated using Coquinaria’s idea of using caul fat to wrap around the hedgehogs. But in the end, I decided that I wasn’t going to put them on the rotisserie, so I would just shape them and bake them. I also substituted out the glaze for an egg wash. Coquinaria used egg and bread crumbs to keep her hedgehogs together but I decided to leave that out.
Here is the recipe I used, mostly taken from Coquinaria’s blog but with my own variations:
For the Hedgehogs:
2 lbs ground pork
1 TBSP ginger
3/4 TBSP cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1/5 tsp sugar
For the Almonds:
1/4 cup butter
2 TBSP sugar
1 package of slivered almonds
The pork was mixed up with the seasonings and then divided into six equal portions. Each portion was shaped into something resembling a hedgehog or a mini meatloaf, depending on your angle, and covered with an egg wash. It went into the oven at 350 degrees for a total time of an hour and twenty minutes. We checked at an hour and decided to cook it a little longer.
While the hedgehogs were cooking, I melted the butter in a pan and mixed in the sugar. Once I got tired of trying to get the sugar to dissolve into the butter, I threw in the bag of almonds. Amon took over at that point because things refuse to brown for me. Once the almonds were brown, we spread them on a plate. Coquinaria’s blog said to make sure we laid out the almonds or they would stick together. I didn’t spread them out far enough.
Turns out, however, that both boys really dug the almond brittle I made…. Next time they will be spread out even further. I spent way too long trying to break apart the almonds in order to get enough long spikes to stick into at least one hedgehog.
Once the hedgehogs were done, we pulled them out and let them sit for a few minutes. They didn’t need to go back into the oven to set the glaze, so I just cut little slits with a knife and put the spines into place. Almonds also made up his nose and eyes.
How Accurate Is It?: While I would love to say this is wonderfully authentic, it isn’t really. I made a lot of modifications. However, I’m pretty sure we got the overall taste the same. I left out the pig’s stomach and glaze in favor of an egg wash. I also baked the hedgehogs rather than putting them on a spit.
How Successful Was It?: Oh my gosh, these were good. And rather simple to make, other than the whole solid mass of almonds. We were all sort of overpowered by spice in the first bite – the Kiddo wasn’t expecting the specific type of Spicerye, and Amon and I thought there might be too much clove. Next time, the clove stays on the shelf.
I was really concerned with the sugar in the recipe. I couldn’t wrap my head around why a meat dish had candy on top of it. But wow, the almonds were the perfect compliment to the slightly sweet meat.
It was delicious and I will definitely be making this recipe again. But I probably won’t form it into hedgehogs. We’ll see.