delivers the origin story of a dish as told by a restaurant’s chefs and/or owners. Today’s plate is a decidedly non-vegetarian Rabbit, Foie Gras, and Bacon Terrine off the Chef’s Tasting Menu at Le Cirque. The menu honors the famed restaurant’s 1974 grand opening (perhaps you’ve seen the recent documentary); Craig Hopson joined Le Cirque as executive chef last November. This dish is one of six that Hopson cooked for the Maccioni family, and one that ultimately got him the job.
On the plate: Rabbit, Foie Gras, and Bacon Terrine with Granny Smith gelée and tempura squash
Craig Hopson: “I make a foie gras terrine—marinade it with salt, sugar, pepper, four spice, and sauternes, then cook it, then cool it down. The rabbit's forequarters are salted and cooked like a duck confit, basically, and bacon is diced and cooked in the foie fat. The foie, rabbit, and bacon are mixed and pressed overnight. I serve it with apple gelee, raw Granny Smith apple batons, and the warm kabocha squash tempura adds an earthy element. Foie gras terrines are the same wherever you go, sort of boring, so I wanted to add something. I thought rabbit might be nice with foie gras and bacon—just a small amount for smokiness, texture, and character. Bacon and foie gras are a really good combination. Usually foie is paired with sweet stuff like fruit compotes, but I like pairing it with savory things like bacon, miso, parmesan, morels. When I came to do a tasting for the Le Cirque job, I cooked this as the second course. The Maccionis loved it.”
Mauro Maccioni: “Everything Craig made for us was exceptional, but this foie gras terrine—I'd never had foie paired with bacon before. And I'm kind of like Danny Meyer, I love bacon [laughs]. And I love game. It reminded me a lot of the style of terrines that Daniel Boulud used to make here at Le Cirque. It had a wonderful crispiness, the consistency was just right—it was simple, straightforward, and so elegant. When Daniel was cooking here, I was growing up, and I suppose I ate more hamburgers than terrines.”