• Graveyard Shift

The Most Appetizing Meals From ‘Hannibal’ You Might Actually Try

List RulesVote up the meals that look appetizing even considering the chef’s unique ingredients.

For three mouthwatering years, Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal was a feast for the senses. The strength of its expressionistic approach was none other than the dazzling visual presentation of the title character’s singularly carnivorous appetite. It was as much a cooking show as anything on the Food Network, with the eponymous doctor delivering grandiose meals week after week - making us all hungry in the process.

In order to pull off this culinary gambit in a manner befitting the elegantly theatrical Dr. Hannibal Lecter (brought to life by Mads Mikkelsen), the show's producers hired a food designer - Janice Poon - to make and plate each dish. "At heart it’s a horror genre, and I didn’t know which way they were going," Poon told GQ. She was tasked with keeping the cuisine macabre while making audiences salivate. Visually, the results speak for themselves - the perfect palette for Hannibal’s palate.

The origins of Hannibal’s meals span the globe, and many are rooted in ancient or medieval cooking practices. The recipes, needless to say, call for lots of fat and lots of meat - from animals, of course. Then again, ingredients are merely details. If you don’t ask what’s on your plate, we won’t tell. So, just among friends: Which of these gourmet meals look good enough to eat? And if you're hungry for more thrilling series, make sure to check out these other shows like Hannibal.

Note: Megan Summers contributed to this article.

  • 5
    62 VOTES

    Pork Loin With Red Fruit Cumberland Sauce

    Photo: NBC

    Episode: "Amuse-Bouche" (Season 1, episode 2)

    Occasion: Ostensibly, this is a meeting of the minds between Dr. Lecter and Jack Crawford to discuss Will Graham’s mental health, which soon begets an impromptu therapy session (“You’ve already told me about your mother; why stop there?”). More accurately, though, this is a scene about Hannibal’s desire - be it his fledgling interest in Will, his aspirations toward Jack and his wife (“I’d love to have you both for dinner”), or, most pressingly, the meal he has so eagerly prepared for Jack.

    On the menu is pork loin with Cumberland sauce - or, to put it another way, white meat coated in a rich red liquid. Hannibal’s pride in the dish is obvious in the way he eyeballs his colleague with increasing satisfaction after Jack’s every bite. And why shouldn’t he be proud? From the scene’s dramatic opening pour - lush crimson bleeding over three tender slices of roasted meat - it’s hard not to be enticed by this harmony of flavors tart and mild.

    Recipe: The traditional English Cumberland sauce should be served over thinly sliced pork loin. The ingredients include:

    1 orange
    1 lemon
    1 cup white sugar, granulated
    1 cup cold water
    1/2 cup homemade or store-bought red currant jelly
    2 tablespoons ruby port
    1 cinnamon stick

    See details for the next steps.

  • 6
    37 VOTES

    Sanguinaccio Dolce

    Photo: NBC

    Episode: "The Great Red Dragon" (Season 3, episode 8)

    Occasion: What is a great chef without a signature dessert? An institutionalized Hannibal confirms that this dish - a concoction of chocolate and, appropriately, blood - is one of his favorites when he gets a visit from a former nemesis, to whom he has previously served a more customized variety. Dr. Chilton, despite seeing his former colleague in cuffs, still wonders about the nature of the blood half of the “blood and chocolate” equation. “Traditionally made with pig’s blood, in this case a local cow,” Hannibal insists. And the last time he served it, Chilton asks? It "was from a cow, only in the derogatory sense.”

    Chilton’s newfound status as a successful author gives the show an opportunity for some nasty wordplay ostensibly about punctuation - “Colons lose their novelty when overused” - but let’s be honest: Even the most distasteful of suggestions isn’t enough to detract from the fact that this delicacy - from the dramatic pour of the almond milk to the crack of the chocolate bar to the image of Chilton’s plastic spoon cutting into its rich texture - is far too tempting to pass up. We always have room for a final course.

    Recipe: This Italian delicacy involves warming animal blood with milk and chocolate. The mixture is served in a hollowed-out orange. If the thought of consuming blood isn't appealing, try out sanguinaccio dolce senza sangue instead. You'll need:

    1 cup milk (any percentage, preferably whole)
    1 cinnamon stick
    1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup chopped good-quality chocolate at least 70% cocoa
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    The process is quite straightforward, as described in this recipe by Tracy.

  • 7
    47 VOTES

    Black Chicken Soup

    Photo: NBC

    Episode: "Relevés" (Season 1, episode 12)

    Occasion: Perhaps Hannibal Lecter has a sentimental streak after all. With Will convalescing in a hospital, it’s Hannibal who brings him chicken soup in bed. And not just any chicken, but “a black-boned bird prized in China for its medicinal value since the seventh century.” Most friends - let alone psychiatrists - would have settled for Campbell’s Chunky.

    Rather than the fine china and silverware with which he typically serves his delicacies, Hannibal humbly brings his palliative offering in plastic Tupperware. He and Will sit down and eat together - an intimate rejoinder to the chilly antiseptic surroundings of the hospital itself. A stark contrast to the ostentatious displays of the doctor’s typical feasts, this chicken soup - dappled with the evocative reds of dates and wolfberries - stands out for its homey qualities. This meal is an act of affection. If only we could all have a caretaker like Hannibal.

    Recipe: The black chicken is actually known as a Silkie chicken, a special Asian bird with black bones. A straightforward ingredients list includes:

    1 Silkie chicken
    3 to 4 liters water
    10 to 12 red dates
    1 inch root ginger, smashed
    1 small cup wolfberry, optional
    Salt, to taste
    Chopped green onion and coriander, as needed

    Check out the full recipe and instructions by Elaine. 

  • 8
    41 VOTES

    Clay-Roasted Thigh

    Photo: NBC

    Episode: "Futamono" (Season 2, episode 6)

    Occasion: A special occasion if there ever was one. After all, it’s not every day that the main course and guest of honor are one and the same. Our compliments to Mr. Abel Gideon and his sacrificial gam. By Hannibal’s code of ethics, that’s simply the price you pay for trying to take credit for a man’s life’s work - no matter the vocation.

    The importance of this particular feast is why the good doctor sprang for the clay - which, he assures us, “makes for a more succulent dish. And adds a little theatricality to dinner.” No need to just take his word for it; we see every mouthwatering detail of the preparation. The garlic, shallots, and seasoning are folded inside a massive slab of meat, which is then wrapped in prosciutto, wrapped again in lotus leaves, and then packed and cooked in clay. Once it’s ready to serve, the clay-roasted thigh - carved into thin, tender slices - speaks for itself. Even Abel enjoys a taste - much to Hannibal’s delight.

    Recipe: This technique can be used to cook different types of meats, but many recipes call for whole pork loins, including this one by chef Andrew Rea:

    4 pounds non-toxic, non-polymer, oven-hardening clay
    9 shallots, peeled and halved
    3 cloves garlic, halved
    1/2 cup dong quai
    4 medium-sized pieces of tong sum
    1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
    1/2 cup dried longan flesh
    1/2 cup dried gocce berries
    1 whole pork loin
    Fresh ground pepper
    3 ounces prosciutto
    2 large reconstituted lotus leaves
    1 large beef marrow bone, halved lengthwise
    1/4 cup parsley
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup white wine vinegar
    Butcher's twine

    The method details how it all comes together.