This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Familiar in country districts throughout England is the Hedgehog, Hedgepig, or Urchin, a small animal armed with prickly spines, being of nocturnal habits, feeding by night on insects, and such prey, and sleeping by day under dead leaves, or similar herbage. When captured, and domesticated, the Hedgehog will clear the kitchen of beetles, cockroaches, mice, and even rats. In the London Pharmacopoeia (1696) it was stated: "The flesh roasted makes pleasant meat; its ashes cure dropsies, as well as the bed-wetting, or not holding the water." Gypsies have an excellent way of roasting the delicate little "Hotchi-witchi" in a ball of clay, which is a slow conductor of the fire, and defends the small creature's body from unsavoury products of charring, whilst the fat, and the gravy which ooze out assist, the cooking within the clay. Hedgehog pie is a dish which is much relished on the continent. For deafness in the head, several old medical authors advise to take the drippings from a roast Hedgehog, and put the same to the patient's ears so grieved, and stop them with black wool.
Quite recently the Tramp's Handbook (1903) instructs that "from September to January is the season for Hedgehogs, when nice and fat, especially at Michaelmas when they have been eating the crab-apples which fall from the hedges. Some have yellow fat, and some have white fat, so that we calls 'em mutton, and beef Hedgehogs; and very good eating they be, sir, when the fat is on 'em." A second recipe for cooking these small creatures of the hedgerow, or plantation, is thus explained: "You cut the bristles off 'em (after they have been fust killed) with a sharp knife; then you sweals 'em (burn them with straw like a bacon pig), and makes the rind brown; then you cuts 'em down the back, and spits 'em on a bit of stick pointed at both ends, and then you roasts 'em with a strong flare." The little animal should first be despatched by a blow on the head, and then roasted just as caught; when it is done the bristles, and skin, will come off en bloc, and he is found to be juicy, and full of most delicate flavour. In France the Marquis de Cherville tells how the foresters on his estate are given to concoct a delicious stew made of the Hedgehog, and the Morille (Fungus meruleus), a choice mushroom gathered in the woods.
In ancient times the Greeks ate Hedgehogs' flesh (Erinaceus Europceus).