Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hannibal Dines Alone

I was having a bit of trouble with re-writes of my current children’s book, so when the food styling job for Hannibal came up, I jumped at it. Nice way to blow the cobwebs out of my brain, I thought.

Hannibal dines alone, 
but in the darkness beyond 
toil a crew and many cooks.

Gravel crunched as I steered my battered hatchback into the compound. Behind me, the chain-link gate rumbled closed with a thud. Above, the guard eyeballed my license then waved me on as if I were an annoying insect.

Visiting the family felon at Folsom? No. This high security is all about pork.

“Here to pick up the lungs,” I said, thrusting my documents at the gatekeeper.

“Food stylist?” He seemed oddly familiar with the term.

“Yes, for a new tv series we’re shooting called Hannibal,” I said, knowing the words “tv” “shoot” and “Hannibal” will open all doors. In this city, people love the film industry and will bend over backwards to help. Several horror films are being shot locally and I’m probably not the only one shopping at the neighborhood slaughterhouse for fake brains and human-sized organs.

“Hannibal,” he considered. “Like, the cannibal? He eats people, right?”

“He’s a connaisseur of human offal and a gourmet chef,” I said defensively. I had read an early draft script of the Hannibal pilot and was thrilled with the character I was to help portray through the food he cooked and ate. Urbane, educated and rich but unforgivably evil. He’s intriguing.

Watch out, they say:
 Hannibal will steal your heart 
-- and your liver and lungs…

The script called for close-ups of fresh human organs. Well, almost human. Thank goodness pork hearts, lungs and livers are almost indistinguishable from those of people. I could use them in the show to stand in for Dead Girl de Jour parts. Lucky for me, there’s a pork abbatoir 5 minutes from my studio. Anyway, I had made the hundred phone-calls, signed the mile-long paperwork in triplicate, shown my ID, given my first-born and was here for my hot lung. (Hot is what they call it when it is fresh off the kill floor. I did the crossword with the guard while I waited for it to chill to regulation temperature.)

The best thing about cooking for Hannibal is the challenge of the unknown. My studio kitchen has been full of discovery. The lung turned out great. Not surprising, as it is wonderful in German Sour Lung Soup, as well as Dinuguan, a yummy dish my Filipini neighbor makes.

If you decide to cook up some lung, a warning: if you frighten easily, don’t try to vacuum-pack any fresh whole lung you may have left over. It balloons up in a way that threatens to blow up the house. I know, who has leftover lungs? But you buy them in pairs and you might not want to cook both lungs. Just wrap ‘er up and hello, Frigidaire. Three months later, when your loved ones are clamoring for more Lung Bourguignonne, you’ll have spare body parts at the ready! For those less likely to love lung, I’ve also included a recipe for liver.

TV Dinners :
Get out your pans
for a serial cook-along
with Dr Lecter

Lung and Loin Bourguignonne

Veal lung is best for this dish as it its more delicate in flavor but it is not as widely available as beef lung which is sold by most Asian butchers. Pork lung is great if you can get it. Or just skip the lungs and double the amount of beef tenderloin. For the first episode of Hannibal, celebrity chef Jose Andres, our illustrious food consultant, has Hannibal cooking Lung au Vin based on Julia Child’s Coq au vin. The “au vin” recipe here is simpler and based on Beef Bourguignonne. Prepare the lung for cooking by soaking it, cubed, in salt-water overnight in the fridge. Squeeze out the water before cooking. Serves 4

Wine sauce:

¼ lb thick cut bacon , cut in ¼-inch strips
4 Tbsp   butter
4            shallots, minced
2 cups    red wine
2 cups    veal stock
1/4 cup   flour
to taste    salt, pepper

Lung and Loin

4 Tbsp     olive oil
1 lb          veal or pork lungs, trimmed of tracheal tubes and cut in 1-inch cubes
1 lb          beef tenderloin, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
2 cup       Portobello mushrooms, trimmed and cut in ½-inch slices
12            baby red onions, peeled and par-boiled
1 cup       baby carrots, par-boiled

1. In a large deep frying pan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add bacon and fry until lightly browned and fat has been released. Add shallots and sauté til soft.
2. Add flour and stir to make a roux. Cook until lightly browned.
3. Stir in wine and stock, whisking to smooth out any lumps of roux and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened. Set aside.
4. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil. Season beef with salt and pepper, add to pan and sauté til medium rare. Remove from pan. Wipe pan dry with paper towel and return to heat with 2 tsp olive oil. Add lung and brown, stirring constantly til browned but not releasing too much liquid. Remove from pan. Wipe pan dry and return to heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil and half of the mushrooms. Saute til mushrooms begin to release moisture. Remove from pan and repeat with remaining mushrooms.
5. Return wine sauce to heat and bring to boil. Add pearl onions and carrots and simmer til tender. Add lungs, beef and mushrooms and simmer just til heated through but beef still medium-rare.
6. Serve with herbed rice or buttery mashed potatoes.

Photo credit: Paul Rozario

Lung: done.

Next: liver die trying.

By Scene 45, Hannibal, ever the curious gourmet, has ended up with a bit of liver that he needs to make into something meaningful. We’ve all done that – compulsively picked up something interesting in the shops and now, at home in the kitchen, staring at that exotic purchase thinking: OK, how will I work that into the kids’ dinner? Maybe I’ll just tell them it’s chicken…

Tandoori Liver

A spicy twist on an old favorite, Liver and Bacon, this dish is sensational served with saffron rice and a cooling dollop of sour cream or yoghurt. Tandoori spice mix can substitute for smoked paprika.
Serves 4

1 lb         sliced liver, veal or pork, soaked in milk for 4 hours in the fridge
2 Tbsp  smoked paprika or tandoori spice mix
3 Tbsp  sour-milk kibe, ghee or cultured butter
1 Tbsp  finely chopped shallots
to taste  salt
2 oz  braised pork belly, in 1/8-inch thick slices
3 Tbsp  orange marmalade jelly
2 Tbsp    lemon juice

1.  In a small bowl, combine marmalade and lemon juice. Set aside. Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat and brown pork belly slices on both sides. Add marmalade mixture to pan and toss to coat evenly. Heat until marmalade starts to bubble and reduce. Set aside in warm oven.
2. Drain liver and dredge in smoked paprika, coating both sides heavily. Heat sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp of the butter. When butter is bubbling, add liver slices to the pan and fry for 1 minute, turn and fry other side for an additional 2 minutes, or until meat is medium-rare. Remove from pan to a covered warm platter. With a paper towel, wipe sauté pan clean of any burned spices and repeat with remaining slices.
 3. When all liver slices have been cooked, arrange on serving platter, top with pork belly slices and drizzle any remaining marmalade glaze over liver slices.

Next week: Lovely loins for two in a red, red sauce


  1. Thank you so much for posting the food illustrations (which are lovely but are very small and cut off in the published script~) as well as the recipes. I hope you will continue to share insight in the upcoming episodes as well. :D

    1. Hope you are enjoying Hannibal and checking out my postings now and again!

  2. This is absolutely fantastic.

  3. The food was one of my favourite parts of the episode, great job!

    1. Thanks! I think the dining room scenes are a nice moment to relax and take a little break from all the killing and blood spatter (even though Hannibal is eating people).

  4. http://instagram.com/p/YFdzEmBKp7/
    Lumb bourguignon, confit purple potato and beetroot, spinach velouté

  5. I just discovered your blog and while I haven't read all your posts yet, I wanted to say first that Dinuguan is a delicious dish indeed (moreso with green chili)! I'm greatly enjoying Hannibal and and looking forward to more of your recipes in the following episodes. xo

    1. Delicious idea - next time I'll pop some green chillies in my dinuguan. Hope you continue to enjoy Hannibal. He's cooking up a lot more in the coming episodes. If you caught this week's episode it's a buffet of body parts - the raw and the cooked.

  6. I just found your blog and am reading your posts ravenously. Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication! I paused an episode once and couldn't believe that everything on Hannibal's plate was edible - it looked like art!

    The food that has aroused my interest the most this first season was actually the sausage and egg scramble Will was fed. It looked so homey and delicious, yet nauseating. Strange question but did you use anything special to make that recipe? I feel like it's the only dish, I as a poor college student, could replicate!

    1. A Spanish friend and I had an evening of cooking Huevos High Life. The authentic recipe is very very oil-soaked. Delicious, but eating this on a regular basis might not be the best way to stay slim.
      I will post the results within the next few weeks.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Hi. Huge fan of Hannibal and I just recently discovered your blog. I'm from the Philippines and I'm so happy that you mentioned "Dinuguan". My grandmother cooked it last week and could not help but think that this is Hannibal's ultimate dish, blood, internal organs and all. Hope to see it on the show!
    By the way, love your work on the show. Amazing!

  8. Hi! I suggested blood sauce for several episodes but so far it hasn't made the cut. Perhaps we will have a chance to do Dinuguan in Season Two, in which I expect, a lot of blood will spill.

  9. Hi,

    I actually took some time off my regular work to become a chef, and I studied food styling in Vancouver. I've been telling all my friends the ebst part of the show is the food, and the best part of the food is the brilliant styling. It's absolutely perfect and somehow that just makes Hannibal even *more* evil, at least in my eyes. Fantastic job!

  10. Coming from a chef and fellow food stylist, those favorable comments are so appreciated. You know my pain! Thanks so much. I think we are going to have outstanding, surprising food in season 2. So I hope you enjoy the next phase of Hannibal and Will's entanglement. And I really hope you come back to my blog for the back story.

  11. So sorry for offtop.
    What particular brand of plates are used by Dr. Lecter in the TV series ? I so badly want to buy the same ))))

  12. it was worth the wait i would say..i browsed through a lot of recipe trying to perfect the lung and liver recipe but it never matched to my satisfaction i was sure about it from the looks of the dish...but i will say that your recipe added flavor to the dish and it was worth it..thanks for making it so wonderful...

    P.S.-i am not telling that it was the best but it was the best i could do till now.. :)

    1. I'm going to start a new page for season 2 of food that you guys have cooked from the Hannibal shows - using my recipes or your own. So if you took any photos of the time you made the Lung and Liver dishes, email them to me at janicepoon8@gmail .com and I'll post them!

  13. Replies
    1. <3
      over a year later - a tardy reply. I haven't posted for over a year nor visited this page for four and it's so lovely to see your heart comment on this, my very first post. You made me smile. TY

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