Nutty Hedgehog Cream Sauce
Hedgehog mushrooms have a softly sweet, nutty flavor with a firm texture that really kicks ass with a delicious cream sauce. For this recipe, I wanted to accentuate their flavor by using nuts and a nutty cheese in the sauce. It turned out pretty tasty, so here's what I cooked up!
Step One: Prepare the Mushrooms
1 lb of hedgehog mushrooms (if none are available or found, you could also use chanterelles, maitake, or Agaricus species, such as campestris or arvensis would probably work nicely)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp butter
pinch of salt
Clean the hedgehogs, being careful to remove dirt and debris from the tooth area as this spot can be notoriously dirty, especially after rainfall. Slice larger ones into quarter inch slices, small mushrooms can be left whole.
Coat cast iron or medium sauté pan with olive oil. Add shallot and simmer for a few minutes until beginning to be translucent. Then add garlic. After a minute, add the mushrooms. Sprinkle a pinch of two of salt over the mushrooms. Allow the mushrooms to take on a deeper tan, almost brown. Add butter and stir until mushrooms are coated with butter and have become tender. Set pan aside.
Step Two: Get Pasta Going
1 lb of fettuccini, spaghetti or pappardelle noodles
pinch of salt
Set large pot of water to high heat. Add a dash of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt. Bring to rolling boil. Add noodles and turn down to low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until noodles are cooked to your preference. Strain.
Step Three: Sauce
1/4 c Chestnut Paste (or some similar rich, sweet nut based condiment)
2 c Almond milk
4 tbsp butter
1 c crushed walnuts
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp flour
In a small sauté pan, throw in walnuts with a dash of olive oil on high heat. This will start to toast the walnuts. Add the garlic after a couple minutes and once garlic starts to get a little crispy, add 2 tbsp of butter. Set aside for the moment.
In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp of butter on low heat until melted, then sprinkle in flour while stirring to form a roux. Stir continuously throughout this step. If the butter-flour mixture looks insubstantial, add a little more olive oil and another pinch of flour. Once the mixture has become fairly thick, almost like a batter coating the bottom of the pan, add the 2 c of almond milk. The thicker the better with the almond milk too, feel free to use coconut cream as well for a spin on this recipe (I think it'd be amazing but wasn't on hand for me!). Keep stirring the almond milk into the roux until the milk begins to thicken. Add chestnut paste. Stir all components together until they begin to thicken and meld together. Add a cup of parmesan, manchego or some other favorite firm nutty cheese.
As sauce comes together, turn heat back on the mushrooms on low and stir periodically, just to rewarm them. You could also, if it's easier, just ladle the mushrooms into the sauce.
Step Four: Final Plating
A small handful of chopped parsley
Shaved or freshly grated parmesan
With tongs or utensils grab a mess of noodles and place into a pasta bowl. Cover with sauce to your preferred amount of wetness. Spoon mushrooms over the sauce (if not already mixed in). Sprinkle toasted nuts and garlic over the mushrooms and then garnish with parsley and parmesan. Dig in!