Fungus of the Week: Hydnum repandum

This easy-to-spot fungus has spines instead of gills, and is therefore known as the hedgehog in England. The French name for it, pied de mouton, is a fanciful description of its overall shape. On some lucky late autumn afternoon in the woods you may catch sight of its creamy caps glowing amongst the moss or leaf litter. Hunt carefully for more, as it usually grows in groups. It has a firm texture, hardly ever harbours larvae, and keeps well in the fridge. Moreover it is one of the most delicious of fungi and can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

If you have only found a few, the best way to maximise your enjoyment is to use them in a risotto. The main determinant of quality in a risotto is the stock you use. Like so many of the greatest Italian dishes, this is comfort food made from cheap ingredients, so there is no point buying the most expensive risotto rice or even using saffron in this dish. Use stock you have made yourself from a guinea fowl carcase with onion, leek, carrot and herbs, including plenty of white wine. Fry the fungal hedgehogs in butter with a scrap of garlic and add when the risotto is nearly cooked. Have a heap of freshly grated parmesan and some parsley at the ready. Heaven.