Binging with Babish: Clay-Roasted Thigh from Hannibal (feat. You Suck at Cooking)
August 7, 2019
[Hannibal] “Clay roasted thigh and canoe cut marrow bone.” [Abel] “My compliments to the chef.”Hey, what’s up guys? Happy Halloween and welcome back to Binging with Babish, where this week we are cooking with not only human remains, but with clay. Two very challenging mediums. Now I’ve never cooked with clay before so I thought I would consult the craftiest chef on the internet, You Suck At Cooking. You Suck At Cooking, what are we doing here? [[email protected]] “The idea of cooking with clay is to cover your food with it in order to lock in the moisture and flavors. Once you cook it you dramatically smash it and everyone’s impressed. Unless you bought the wrong kind of clay like I did which won’t smash because it’s basically plastic. So instead of trying to cook with this and poisoning my food I got creative and made a perfect replica of Michelangelo’s David versus a carrot. And The Thinker contemplating a baked potato. It’s a known scientific fact that when food is in close proximity to timeless works of art it really enhances those flavors. But the easiest way to cook with clay is to just make your own clay pan. Throw in some olive oil… Whoa whoa no no no no no (Sigh) That sucks, I even made my own clang jangler. Anyway it doesn’t matter. The point is that clay is super versatile in the kitchen, and you just have to figure out a way to use it that works for you.All right, so the lesson I’m taking away from this is that I need more clay phalluses in my kitchen and that you’ve got to get the right kind of clay. We’re looking for a non-toxic, non-Polymer, oven-hardening clay. We’ve got to start by preparing the filling. I’m going to peel and halve maybe eight shallots that I’m gonna set aside in a bowl with three halved cloves of garlic. And then it looked like Hannibal was using the traditional spices for beggar’s chicken which can get a little exotic. we’re going to start with some dong quai, which is a dried root related to ginseng. We’re gonna put that in the bowl of a blender along with some tong sum, another dried ginseng relative that we’re gonna try and break in half and get into the bowl. And some dried shiitake mushrooms to create a sort of spice powder that we’re going to rub the meat with. These spices are best blended and opened in slow motion or pretend-slow motion because you forgot to set the camera to slow motion. And they’re gonna be accompanied by some other stuff that I found down in Chinatown. Into some hot water we’re going to throw maybe half a cup of dried shiitake mushrooms, another half cup of dried Longan flesh and a half cup of dried wolf berries, or goji berries. We’re gonna let these reconstitute in the hot water covered for about 15 minutes, and then dry thoroughly. In the meantime let’s get our human thigh ready. Or more accurately, according to the show’s food stylist, a whole pork loin trimmed of fat and silver skin and conjoined to look like a human thigh. Pork is also apparently the meat that tastes closest to human, so we’re still being accurate here. We’re cutting the whole roast in half and butterflying each piece like so. And since I don’t have the patience to sew these together like she did in the show, we’re just gonna fill them with our stuffing and stack them on top of one another to create a roast. Let’s start by doing something that Hannibal shockingly does not do in the show, which is generously season both sides with salt and freshly cracked pepper and then sprinkle the inside of each piece liberally with our spice mixture. This is obviously going to add a lot of flavor but it’s also going to absorb some of the moisture brought to the party by our reconstituted filling. I’m gonna start with a generous heap of our previously dried mushrooms and berries, and then top that with our halved shallots and garlic cloves. Top with the other half of the roast and then I’m going to again break with Hannibal tradition here and shingle first with prosciutto instead of tying first because why would you want butcher twine underneath a layer of prosciutto? Doesn’t make any sense. So I’m shingling prosciutto on top and then tying the whole roast tight to even out its size and thus allow it to cook more evenly. And there’s our roast. It kind of looks like a human thigh, right? Perfect, so now we’re going to place it inside of a giant reconstituted dried lotus leaf. I’m actually gonna double wrap it to protect the roast from any clay dust from when we crack open its outer shell. Speaking of which, I hope you paid attention during pottery class because it’s time to exercise your skills, or lack thereof in my case, as a sculptor. I’m going to start by laying down a bottom layer of clay much larger than the roast so that I can place it on top like so, and begin shingling the top with clay, creating two sort of layers that we can then bring the edges together to create a sealed package. We want to make sure that it’s not so thick that we won’t be able to crack it open later, and not so thin that it’s gonna bust open in the oven. It’s very delicate to dance. Now we’re gonna top with some nice delicate decorations. I made a little flower that I punched a hole into for ventilation so the whole worse doesn’t bust open in the oven, and some nice little flowers because Doctor Lecter is, if nothing else, all about the dramatic presentation and eating people. We’re placing this in a 275°F oven for 3 and 1/2 hours. I got a couple little cracks here but the roast is structurally sound. We’re going to set it aside to rest while we roast our bone marrow Crank the oven up to 450°F and roast for 15 minutes or until dark brown and soft. And set aside so we can get to the big event. Take off your carefully curated little decorations and using the pestle part of a mortar and pestle, give this thing an all around pound. Carefully peel off the clay in large pieces to minimize the amount of dust and shards that end up in your roast. And once you’ve got enough clay out of the way start peeling open your lotus leaves. Revealing a very juicy and very fragrant piece of human– I mean pork. Maybe there’s something to this whole baking and clay nonsense. We’re gonna cut a few of the strings off and slice ourselves a few pieces of our roast, making sure to get some of our filling from the inside. This is going to be accompanied with our human– –I mean beef marrow bone that we’re going to top with a simple vinaigrette of shallots, parsley, oil and white wine vinegar. And while the meat turned out very tender and juicy, I gotta say. These flavors? Not for me. The lotus leaves bring a kind of green tea vibe to the whole thing and the herbs and roots proved to be a little too exotic for my palate. Though It was really good when I scooped some bone marrow up on there. The prosciutto is also very strange and seemed out of place in this dish, but then again, I wasn’t really working with the most accurate meat. Or was I? I wasn’t. Or was I?