Thursday, 18 April 2013

Episode 3: Stag Party

Limbs and antlers

A horrid tangle.


Matted hair.



No one dines tonight.

The script for episode 3 is totally horrifying: there’s no food!!!! It’s a food stylist’s worst nightmare.

But there are stags and does galore bounding in and out of the corridors of the mad minds in this episode. So it seems right to give you a recipe for venison stew to ruminate over.

Then, to fill up the rest of this week’s entry, I’ll share with you some shots and stories from the amazing shoots that SonyNBC did for their Hannibal promos and EPKs (electronic press kits).

Get Set

Here is the set being prepped. Eagle-eyed fans of the show will notice that the dining room is not quite the same as Hannibal’s. We completely re-created the set in another studio so the camera would see exactly what was in the art director’s eye.

Some of the dishes on Hannibal’s table: Octopus and its babies eating crow; Kidney and sausage pie (to honor the pies of Bryan Fuller’s wonderful Pushing Daisies): Papaya spewing Heart Tartare onto pastry puffs.


Playing with your food

It’s the unspoken part of the food stylist’s professional work ethic:  –  you must play with the food after the shoot. So here I am, hamming it up and strumming the $2,000.00 Jamon Iberico from Episode 7.  The famed black hoof has, sadly, been cut off by customs  so, for our shoot, I sculpt a fake foot for the salted beast out of wax and shoe polish. With the red cord that identifies the Jamon as top grade, the leg could almost be that of a Spanish dancer wearing a patent leather Manolo Blahnik stiletto.

photo courtesy Sharon Seto

Hannibal cleans up en Espanol

This promo (click here) just makes me laugh. Something about that tiny Dyson removing invisible crumbs is so perfect for Hannibal. And it is such a contrast to handling mountains of dishwashing and lugging of tubs of water and bagging pails of garbage and incinerating offal and hours of scrubbing and sweeping that go on in my studio kitchen and the set kitchen every time Hannibal lifts that fork of his.

As promised, a recipe for your stag party:
Venison Stew
This recipe will serve 6 to 8. You could serve half of it as stew with buttery mashed potatoes and a warm crusty bread and then make the rest into Pot Pies to freeze for another day. Stagger the stag so to speak.

2 cups      red wine
1 cup       red wine vinegar
1/2  cup       gin (optional)
½ cup       olive oil
1 Tbsp     chopped garlic
6              juniper berries, crushed
1 tsp         black pepper, crushed
1 tsp         Italian oregano, rubbed
¼ tsp        rosemary

3 lb          venison cut into 1-inch cubes

3 Tbsp     flour
8 slices     bacon cut in 1-inch pieces
3 Tbsp      olive oil
2 cups       veal stock
1               medium onion, cut in ¼-inch slices
3               medium carrots, cut in 1-inch pieces
3               medium parsnips, cut in 1-inch pieces
½ cup       chopped pitted prunes

1. In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and add venison. Marinate in fridge for 4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 325º. Drain venison, reserving liquid. Pat venison dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour. In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat, add a third of the venison and fry just until brown. Remove to a Dutch oven or other large, heavy baking dish with lid. Repeat until all venison is browned. Add reserved marinade liquid, beef stock and prunes to baking dish, cover and bake for 1 ½ hour or until meat is tender.
3. In sauté pan, fry bacon over medium-high heat until fat is rendered. Remove bacon and set aside, leaving fat in pan.  Add onions to pan and sauté until golden and translucent. Set aside. Add carrots and parsnips to pan and brown lightly. Add to baking dish along with bacon and onions. Add water if necessary – liquid should just cover the meat. Return baking dish to oven with lid on and bake for another ½ hour or until vegetables are soft and meat is tender. Add salt if necessary.

Next week:  Foie pas -- forcing liver on the dinner guests


  1. I love your blog. Thank you for giving us this look into Hannibal.

    1. Thanks for finding and reading Feeding Hannibal. Food styling for this show has challenging but a lot of fun.

  2. Awesome this is blog!! Really i like it this blog. Thanks for sharing nice information about Stag Party

    1. Hope you are enjoying Hannibal and thanks for reading my blog!

  3. Mads has really nice, well-manicured hands. He could be a hand model. And I love your blog. You are one true artist, and I am soooooo jealous of your job.

    1. Mads is great to work with and food styling for Hannibal is an amazing job. I have had great food styling jobs before but this one is off-the-chart wonderful for it's creative challenge and opportunity to stretch into previously unmined territory. Thanks for reading my blog and commenting!

  4. The entire show has such amazing artistic direction but uour food styling is definitely what draws me to the show the most now! I've only just found this blog, I'm glad that there is a show other than a cooking show that has given food so much presence!

    1. I think we need the food scenes in Hannibal as we do in life for the momentary respite they give from the tension of the nightmares, killings and blood spatter. A truce time when we sit together at a civilized table and nourish ourselves - trusting we won't poison each other with our cooking or attack each other with our knives. And as always, we learn a lot about people over dinner.
      I love doing the food for Hannibal and your feedback encourages me to put even more into it. Thanks!

  5. Could beef stock be substituted for veal stock? I don't know where to get veal stock locally, let alone whole juniper berries.

    1. Sara-
      A year late in answering but you should be able to get dried juniper berries at most stores that specialize in herbs and spices. Otherwise, use dried blueberries. Beef stock will work great instead of veal stock. Hope that helps!

  6. How do you cut venison? Is there a special knife you should be using or will a normal utility knife do?

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