Baked Hedgehog


Makes 5 servings of one hedgehog each (serving a crowd?)

Baked Hedgehog
  • 1 lb ground chicken, turkey, or pork
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (¼ lb) chopped mushrooms
  • 2 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ cup (2 oz) to ¾ cup breadcrumbs, preferably wholewheat
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • salt
  • slivered almonds
  • cress, romaine, or dandelion for garnish
  • raisins for eyes
  • grease
  • almond sauce (see below)

Special equipment

food processor


Fry the bacon on medium heat till brown. Remove, and pour off all but two teaspoons of the bacon fat. Sauté onions and mushrooms in the grease until they begin to dry (it could take more than 20 minutes). In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, bacon, ¼ cup of breadcrumbs, garlic, egg, parsley and salt. Blend in the cooled onion-mushroom mixture. Add more breadcrumbs as needed until you can form the mixture into 3½ inch ovals and place them on a greased baking pan. You can either poke into their backs — oh, about 15 almond silvers each (the more you add, the more realistic they’ll appear) or save yourself the risk of burning the tips, and roast the almond slivers in a dry frying pan and spike the little urchins after they’re baked. Poke in two raisins for eyes before putting them into the oven. If you bake for 1 hour at 350°, you must cover them halfway through lest they browne to moche. Serve on a bed of greens with the almond sauce.

Almond sauce (enough for 5 hedgehogs)

1 Tablespoon pulverized almonds
1 Tablespoon margarine
1 Tablespoon white flour
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon almond extract
pinch salt

In a dry frying pan, gently roast the almond dust. Add the margarine (do not use butter as it is likely to burn and turn the sauce brown), which will melt almost immediately, and blend in the flour to form a paste. Add the milk, stirring constantly. It may at first appear to curdle, but that’s just the fat hardening on contact with the cold milk; worry not. Keep heated to just short of desrired thickness (you’ll want it to roll down the side of the hedgehogs but also to stay on their backs). Add extract, salt, and remove from fire. Keep stirring. If you’ve prepared it too early, cover it to prevent skin from forming and reheat in the microwave.


The recipe is based on one from Harleian MS. 279 (reprinted below and in Renfrow for an ‘antient conceit’ for hedgehogs. The recipe is for something between small pork sausages and haggis, stuck with slivered almonds and roasted. Sum were gilded (ME dorre ‘gild’ from OF dorer ‘to gild’) with a sauce of (egg or butter and ?) flour, sum made grene, presumably with chopped parlsey, and sum brushed blake with blood like black pudding. The multicolour presentation is typical of the period.

.xx. Yrchouns Take Piggis mawys, & skalde hem wel; take groundyn Porke, & knede it with Spicerye, with pouder Gyngere, & Salt & Sugre; do it on þe mawe, but fill it nowt to fulle; þen sewe hem with a fayre þrede, & putte hem in a Spete as men don piggys; take blaunchid Almaundys, & kerf hem long, smal, & sharpe, & frye hem in grece & sugre; take a litel prycke, & prykke þe yrchons, An putte in þe holes þe Almaundys, every hole half, & eche fro oþer; ley hem þen to þe fyre; when þey ben rostid, dore hem sum wyth Whete Flowre, & mylke of Almaundys, sum grene, sum blake with Blode, & lat hem nowt browne to moche, & serue forth.

And in modern English:

Urchins Take pigs’ stomachs and scald them well; take ground pork and knead it with spicery, with powdered ginger, and salt and sugar; do it on the stomach, but don’t fill it too full; then sew them with a fair thread, and put them in the spit as men do pigs; take blanched almonds, and carve them long, small, and sharp, and fry them in grease and sugar; take a little prick and prick the urchins, and put in the holes the almonds, every hole a half and each for the other; lay them then to the fire; when they’ve been roasted, gild them with some wheat flour and milk of almonds, some green, some black with blood, and don’t let them brown too much, and serve forth.
How would you cook a real hedgehog? Hartley reports that gypsies would encase them in clay and bake them on an open fire. When cooked, they broke off the covering, which would tear off the prickles — prickles not sharp spines like American porcupines — and skin. Reputedly, they taste like tender chicken, but that’s what they say of snake, alligator, frog, and most other oddmeats, isn’t it? Because this little omnivore is so beneficial to farmer and gardener, eating snails, insects, fallen fruit, even bread and milk if offered, he has never been part of the British diet. The rage for ‘hedgehog-flavoured potato crisps’ is pure jest.

It would have been possible to use real pig stomach (ME maw ‘stomach’ a word still in use; you can still find hog maw for sale in Philadelphia streetmarkets), and one of the cooks has some experience making a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch New Year’s dush of pig stomach stuffed with chestnuts, sausage and potato. But since the stomach of today’s pig is large and very, very, expandable (one stomach can easily be stretched to feed ten), and we wanted small single-serving hedgehogs realistically sized, we rejected that idea, especially since the dish would probably nauseate the uninitiated and eliminated the need to seek out a hundred teeny-weeny piglet stomachs.

The mylke of Almaundys of the recipe inspired the sauce. Most historians (Wilson, Hartley, Renfrow) believe almond milk was not oil of almonds, nor an almond flavoured dairy product — it could not have been milk-based because it replaced milk on fasting days — but an opaque barley wash flavoured with ground almonds, something like the French orgeat. Hartley and Renfrow both offer modern recipes for quasi-accurate reproductions of almond milk, but we instead chose to enhance a basic white sauce with almond flavours to appeal to modern taste over historical accuracy.

Curiously, the spectacle of the hedgehog persisted well into the twentieth century. Hartley speaks of hedgehog puddings, a desert from her Yorkshire childhood, consisting of spongecake ovals decorated with almond silvers and swimming in rich custard.


Purists would use ground pork, but we’ve usually use ground chicken.

You can have a lot of fun adding little dried cherry or cranberry bits for the mouth, and pieces of dried apricot for ears.