Home-made terrine always brings my best food-related childhood memories and, therefore, is one of the rare dishes I consider as both festive and comforting. My mum would bake it for most family parties and holidays and it was obligatory for Christmas and Easter. Thus, every year, when Easter approaches, instead of being tempted by the chocolate bunnies that invade all the Swiss shops, I start longing for my beloved humble-looking terrine and its inebriating, festive nutmeg aroma. I have already written about this terrine/pâté some time ago, but when I made it last weekend, I took the opportunity to change my old photos and decided to share this recipe with you again.
France is probably the country which comes to mind when we think about pâtés and terrines. They can be made in France with any kind of meat and/or liver. While pâtés are usually made with pork or duck or game and/or liver and sometimes are baked in a crust (pâté en croûte) or simply made soft and spreadable, terrines can also be made with fish, seafood, vegetables or even fruit and are always baked in a rectangular dish and are eaten only sliced. However, when you observe French butchers’ products, you realise that what some call “terrine”, others label as “pâté” and in some cases (especially in the case of pork products), the difference is not that clear. I am still hesitating what term I should use for this Polish recipe, but I think that for non-French readers, “terrine” might be easier to understand.
The Polish terrines I have been making for years are based on my mum’s recipe and differ a lot from the French ones. Not only are they made with previously cooked meat and liver (French products are baked with raw meat), but they are also very finely ground or mixed, but most of all, there is the amazing nutmeg which is the key ingredient here. My mum would usually prepare her pâté with a mixture of pork and beef, but this lighter, poultry version, would also appear on the table from time to time and this is the one I prepare most often.
The preparation is long, but very simple and difficult to fail. Once it has cooled down, the terrine can be kept in the fridge for about one week or frozen until the day we want to use it. It can be served as a starter, as a snack, on small canapés or crackers and it goes particularly well with all kinds of pickles (pickled pepper, gherkins, onions, beetroots and even kimchi!) and cranberry or bilberry jam/sauce. Personally, I love it with a fiery horseradish sauce and/or my Pickled Sweet Peppers.
TIPS: As the recipe name suggests, nutmeg is the main seasoning, so unless you hate it, do not skip it (at least for the first time). Every time I tried omitting it and putting other seasonings instead, I was very disappointed. Do use freshly grated nutmeg because it loses its aroma very quickly.
As I have mentioned above, this terrine can be frozen in big or small portions and even though the crust will not be crunchy, the taste will stay more or less the same.
You can use either deboned, skinless chicken/turkey cuts or a whole small chicken. The latter version will of course take a bit more time, but it can prove cheaper. If you want, you can skin the chicken before the first, cooking stage. This way the stock you add to the terrine will be less fatty.
Be generous with ground black pepper: this poultry version tends to be a bit bland compared to the pork pâté for example, so freshly ground black pepper gives it more character.
Preparation: 2,5 – 3 hours + cooling time
Ingredients (fills a 20 cm x 10 cm baking tin):
500 g/about 20 oz chicken breast, or a mixture of leg and breast meat or a whole small chicken (you can also use turkey cuts)
green part of 1 leek
1 parsley root or a couple of parsley branches
1/4 celeriac or 2 branches celery
1 big carrot
1 medium onion
100 g/about 4 oz chicken livers
2 slices white, sandwich bread
1/2 nutmeg (freshly grated)
3 heaped tablespoons semolina
2-3 tablespoons oil or duck fat
If you use the whole chicken, place it in a big pan filled with water. If you want, you can skin it. Add the carrot, the halved onion, the leek, the celeriac and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium heat until the meat well cooked. The whole chicken will take much more time than cut up meat.
If you use separate meat cuts, cut the meat into equal chunks. Put them in a pan filled with water. Add the carrot, the halved onion, the leek, the celeriac and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium heat until the carrot is very soft and the meat well cooked.
When the meat or the chicken are cooked, remove them from the stock and wait until they cool down.
Pour 500 ml/about 17 fl oz of the stock into a small pan and cook the livers for 15 minutes.
Put the livers aside.
Place delicately the bread slices in the stock remaining after the livers have been cooked and let them soak for one minute.
Put the livers, the meat (if you use the whole chicken, remove the meat from the carcass, making sure there are no bones or skin), the soaked bread, the carrot and the parsley root (discard the branches) in a food processor and mix into a smooth paste. (Do not throw away the stock in which the meat was cooked!).
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Put the mixed meat into a bowl.
Add the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and taste if there is enough salt (this is the best moment to taste; afterwards tasting might be a bit unpleasant with raw eggs and semolina). Be generous with ground black pepper: this poultry version tends to be a bit bland compared to the pork pâté for example, so freshly ground black pepper gives it more character.
Stir in the eggs, the semolina and about 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the stock in which the meat was cooked at the beginning.
Mix well with a spoon.
Line a baking tin with baking paper or grease it and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Spoon the terrine mixture into the baking tin, smooth the surface with a spoon and sprinkle it with oil or melted duck fat.
Bake about one hour until the top is golden brown and don’t pay attention to the unpleasant smell from the oven (it will be irresistible once the terrine has cooled down).
After it cools down either freeze it or keep it refrigerated (tightly wrapped in cling film) for one week.