Thursday, 11 April 2013

Hannibal feeds Jack

Hannibal feeds Jack
a meal of thighs for two.
Others wait in rooms beyond.
Boned. Wrapped tight. Frozen.
Meals for another day.

Reading the production draft of Amuse-Bouche, Episode 2 of Hannibal, I get drawn into the action – the fear, the shock, the sudden plot turns. I forget I’m the food stylist – I’m supposed to be looking for the food scenes. I break into a nervous sweat when I read the part where the mushroom men are discovered.

I don’t mind occasionally examining a piece of toast to see if I can see the face of Mary, but after reading this script, I am afraid to look in my fridge in case I see a nose in the box of Shemeiji mushrooms I've been harbouring.

But I must look, because I need to check out the pork loin I’m using to simulate a Roast of Girl.  I am designing the menu for Hannibal’s dinner with Jack – a roast loin of pork, he lies. I am learning that Hannibal lies about everything – except perhaps when he invites Jack to bring his wife over, saying, “ I‘d love to have you both for dinner.”

I call my nephew who is a sports medicine intern. “Hey Jay, are there any muscles on a woman that are big enough to make into a roast?” Thighs, he thinks. OK. I email my  niece who is a physiotherapist. “How big is the thigh bone?” About 1 ½  inches diameter by 18 inches long, Chantelle says. Check. Of course, I cross-reference with Dr. Google.

To simulate a woman’s thigh, my pork roast will be about 3 inches in diameter by 10 inches long. Made from 3 different thigh muscles, it will be stuffed and bound.

Jose Andres has gone over my sketches and menu and made some mouth-watering suggestions (crystallized apple garnish, Cumberland sauce) and sends me an inspiring photo of his glorious bone-in rib roast.

I decide to stuff the roast with a spinach/mushroom crumb to honor the mushroom men who are growing in the backs of fridges everywhere. Then I’ll completely wrap the roast with slices of proscuitto – to make it look like it has a thin skin.

Maybe a pear compote to dress the table, some scorched red tomatoes clinging to their burnt stems. And some frenched green beans.

A food stylist always has to include something that the actors can eat take after take after take -- usually a vegetable cut in small pieces so they won’t find themselves with a mouthful of food when it’s time to say their lines. Green beans will work here. Lawrence Fishburne, who is playing Jack Campbell, can’t eat nuts, kiwis or eggplant. Mads Mikklesen, our Hannibal, will eat anything – with great relish.

 OK, OK - I know this is from episode one but I just got the link today and it’s so pink!

Enough, watching Mads cook. Get out your knives, it’s time to cook along with your favourite cannibal.

Here’s my recipe for episode 2:

Roast Veal stuffed with Spinach and Mushrooms.

Why veal? Because, according to William Seabrook, that’s what human flesh tastes like. Back in the 30s, he was a reporter for The New York Times and, in researching cannibalism, asked a friend who was interning at the Sorbonne to procure for him a piece of healthy human flesh. He cooked it up and promptly declared it to be stringy but delicious – and tasting exactly like a good piece of veal. So instead of the pork that Hannibal claims he is serving to Jack, we are substituting veal. With zeal. To the kitchen!

serves four

4  10-oz bags of spinach, washed and trimmed
½  cup butter
1 ½ lb mushrooms, sliced ¼ inch
¾ tsp crushed garlic
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp  ground pepper
1 ¼ cups dry breadcrumbs
1 2-lb veal strip loin
2 oz thinly sliced pork fat

1. Place a half bag of spinach in a plastic zipper bag. Zip partially closed, leaving opening for steam to escape. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove to a strainer to drain. Place drained spinach in cheeesecloth and squeeze dry.  Set aside. Repeat with remaining spinach.
2. In a sauté pan over highheat, melt 2 – 3 Tbsp butter and add about 1 cup of  the mushrooms. Cook until moisture is released from mushrooms and re-absorbed. Season to taste with garlic, salt and pepper. Remove from pan and repeat with remaining mushrooms.
3. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. In a food processor, combine half of the spinach, mushrooms and breadcrumbs. Pulse until finely chopped and combined.  Remove and repeat with remaining.
4. With a sharp slicing or boning knife, slice a pocket in the veal to within ½ inch of the sides. Season inside of this pocket with salt and pepper and stuff with spinach/mushroom mixture. Transfer to a roasting pan and place slices of pork fat on top.
5. Roast for 20 minutes or until veal is medium-rare. Rest for 15 min before slicing. Serve with Cumberland Sauce.

Cumberland Sauce

1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed and pressed through a sieve to remove seeds
1 orange Juice and zest
2/3 cup port
1 Tbp red currant jelly
pinch cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower heat to simmer until reduced by a third.

Next week: A groaning table of Head Cheese, Liver Pate, Galantine of Girl, Carpaccio and a delightful Charcuterie Platter showcases Hannibal’s culinary talents. You'll enjoy his skill as gracious host. Unless you are a vegetarian. Or a slim young brunette with a wind-chaffed complexion….


  1. your posts are always so interesting fun to read! as a poor college student short on time and skill preparing your recipes is a long shot, but looking at them always makes me hungry.
    love the show, love the food. :D

    1. In art college, I had a hotplate and a toaster and went to sleep reading Larousse Gastronomique. I know what you mean. Thanks for taking the time to watch and comment!

  2. This is awesome, the recipes of course but also your research into mimicking the presentation of human flesh. Thanks for posting your research and the drawings! :D

    1. Thank you for your encouraging comments! Research has always been my favourite part of food styling - it's usually historical/cultural. But Hannibal is a food stylist's dream job - you can go as far as your imagination will let you but always within the confines of credibility. JP

  3. Janice,

    This is amazing! Please keep up here with Hannibal's recipes. One quick question...what kind of knife is he using during the lung scene? It looks like a breaking knife. Are you in a position to know, or is that the Prop dept.


    1. I select the knives and often give Mads a couple to choose from. For this scene, he picked this exceptionally thin boning knife - it looks more menacing than a regular one. A breaking knife is usually used by a butcher - Hannibal is more chef/surgeon/sculptor. The food stylist is part of the props department. Thanks for your interest!

  4. Made this tonight using pork loin (veal was hard to find) and it was off the charts great!. Didn't Hannibal tell Jack it was pork anyway? The cumberland sauce really pulled it's now part of the permanent rotation. Also went great with our dessert brownies!

    1. Great! I'm so happy you tried the recipe. Glad you made it with pork - much juicier. It was pork that I used for the actual scene and Hannibal did say it was pork but of course he was lying -it's human flesh. I used veal in the recipe because I read that human flesh tastes like stringy veal -- so with veal you can have a "Hannibal Experience" without the ick factor and the despicable amoral criminal activity.

  5. Thanks Dear Janice for lovely recipe, I am planing to make this very soon, Just a quick question, in the episode loin slices on Jack's plate have no stuffing in them (like the drawing you showed here) what happened to stuffing? or I got something wrong?


    1. On Jack and Hannibal's plates, in the loin slices, there's a little ribbon of stuffing outlining the three muscles - sort of like a herb rub applied before rolling a roast. I didn't use a lot of stuffing for the shoot because I don't like to run the risk that the actors, who are eating throughout the scene, end up saying their lines with spinach between their teeth. For the recipe, though, I've put in tons more stuffing - it's really delicious and will work with veal, beef, lamb or pork.

  6. Thanks a lot Janice, Now I know the reason, Hannibal won't look neither attractive nor mysterious with spinach between his teeth :). I already ordered the veal loin from my butcher, I am sure it will be great. Looking forward to your other recipes.

    1. If you have any photos of the loin you made, I'd love to see it. I'm compiling a page of food shots by readers/viewers of Hannibal food they have made and will post it as soon as I get it together.

    2. Oops forgot to tell you where to send photos:

  7. Janice thank you so much for this recipe. I just made it(with pork) for the airing of the Season Finale, and this has got to be one of the best things I've EVER eaten. I think the most difficult part was stuffing it, I ended up with a LOT of extra stuffing, more than could fit in my roast, but I was able to eat it as a bit of a side dish :) Here's what mine looked like all ready to be eaten:

    I've never really plated before, so this was a fun challenge!

  8. Hey Katerick- I am really bad with social media and couldn't find the photo on your facebook page. I am going to post photos of dishes that readers are making from my recipes as soon as I figure out how to. In the meantime, if you like, send your photo to me at

    I will post it on this blog. Somehow.

    BTW, the stuffing is great baked in tomatoes for a side dish or baked in halved squash as a vegetarian main dish. You could freeze it and use it later.

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  10. Was this Cumberland sauce the same one used during shooting? It seems so much thicker when Hannibal pours it on, almost like ketchup, while I ended up with a much thinner liquid.

    1. Hi-
      Sorry to reply so late - it took me a while to find the clip of the sauce pouring. Yes, I remember now - I was using pureed frozen raspberries mixed with sieved strawberry jam because the director wanted a thick, luxurious pour and Cumberland sauce is quite a bit thinner - but much for eating, I recommend real Cumberland sauce.

  11. Hi Janice,
    I just found this blog and I going kind of crazy over it.
    I'm a terrible cook, but I'll definitely try one of these recipes one of these days.
    Thank you for posting with such detail!

  12. Trying this tomorrow, looks rather wonderful!

  13. Janice, I must know what thermos brand Hannibal uses. I can't find it anywhere. Please help.

  14. Hi Janice,

    I just read the comment I made back in January and it was a little cryptic haha. sorry. I was wondering, in episode one where Hannibal brings Will breakfast, what type of thermos is he using. My soon to be husband is obsessed (as we both are with the show and food) and I would like to try and get it for him as a gift for our wedding in August. Thank you for your help. And everything you put together on this show looks amazing and beautful and I want to eat it all! Thanks