Light Chicken Terrine (Pâté) with Nutmeg

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Few dishes are comparable to the taste of a good, home-made baked pâté or terrine, especially when it brings back pleasant memories. The smell coming from the oven instantly transports me to my childhood days and makes me feel there is something festive and joyful in the air.

Pâtés can be made with any kind of meat and with different methods. In France most of them are either made with pork or with duck and consist in baking a mixture of roughly cut raw meat and/or liver with spices. “Terrine” is a very similar product, but apart from meat or liver, it can also be made with fish, seafood, vegetables or even fruit and is always baked in a rectangular dish, while pâté can be soft and “spreadable”.

The terrines I have been making for years (they could also be called pâtés in France I suppose, but I think “terrine” is the best name here) 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, but they are also very finely ground and, most of all, there is the amazing nutmeg which is the key ingredient here. Preparing them always puts me in a festive mood and I have always considered home-made terrine/pâté as the ideal dish for this occasion.

As a notorious recipe changer I have fiddled a bit with my mum’s recipe and worked out several versions. Today I wanted to present you the lightest one, but certainly not the least palatable, made with poultry. The preparation is long, but very simple. Once it has cooled down, the pâté/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 title 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/pâté 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 turkey or chicken 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 pâté will be less fatty.

Preparation: 2,5 – 3 hours + cooling time

Ingredients (fills a 20 cm x 10 cm baking tin):

500 g/about 20 oz turkey or chicken breast, or a mixture of leg and breast meat or a whole small chicken

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

pepper, salt

2 eggs

2-3 tablespoons oil or duck fat

(dry breadcrumbs)

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).

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 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.

After it cools down either freeze it or keep it refrigerated (tightly wrapped in cling film) for one week.

48 thoughts on “Light Chicken Terrine (Pâté) with Nutmeg

  1. Mr. Three-Cookies

    This is an interesting preparation method, I haven’t come across this method. I made pâté (actually parfait) couple of times using minced cooked liver etc. Your version is much lighter. I should try this.

    My mum never made pâté (baked or unbaked) so unfortunately I am unfamiliar with the smell of baking pâté. I guess there is only one way to find out:)

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I have never liked pâtés or terrines made with majority of liver (unless it is fat duck liver (foie gras)), so I put just a bit of liver. This method is really very easy and apart from keeping a certain texture, you can put any meat you want and I suppose it’s possible even without liver. It’s so delicious on a piece of dark bread!

  2. Jeno @ Week Nite Meals

    Sissi, my only exposure to pâté was in French language class, also my husband (who is Vietnamese/Chinese/French mix) would occasionally buy the little cans, which I am sure is nothing compare to your home made dish. I’ve tasted it on toast but was not a huge fan, though maybe it’s due to American’s aversion to all things liver… Think it’s time to give it another try!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Jeno, you must have had 100% (or majority) liver pâtés. This pâté has only 20% liver and the rest is meat, carrot etc., so you don’t feel the taste of liver (and actually it’s possible to make it without liver too, the texture would only need some adjusting). The ones in cans are also different from baked ones. I prefer baked ones, but I don’t suppose they are popular at American butchers/caterers. Do try it one day. It’s very easy!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Shannon. I don’t really buy canned pâtés since all the French butchers sell fresh, baked ones. They are however completely different from this one and usually contain too much liver for my taste. Good luck! It’s really easy.

  3. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles

    What a great idea Sissi, I have never made my own pâté… and I love the use of chicken for a change and the thought of serving it with pickles has me all excited – yum!! The nutmeg must be gorgeous in this…it really does have a flavour that comes through and would be missed (my husband and I love it in our Christmas coffee ;0). I’m saving this recipe… very inspiring Sissi!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Kelly. Thank you for the compliments. Nutmeg in a coffee??? Wow! It sounds very unusual, but doesn’t surprise me really: you always have amazing flavour combination ideas. This pâté is frankly one of the few things I can snack on during Christmas without feeling guilty 😉

    1. Sissi Post author

      I totally agree! (I would also add a pickled cucumber). I wonder what the German-style pâté looks like. I hope you will post the photo at least if you make it.

  4. Sharon | Chinese Soup Pot

    Wow, what a surprise to visit your blog today! I love pâtés! And thank you for sharing a light version of it. I’ve never made pâté at home before, thinking that it is very difficult and fatty. But your recipe actually looks doable!

  5. ping

    Pate and kimchi?! That sounds so weird, I’ve got to try it! I love, LOVE pate but my husband hates it (boo). Not many of my friends and family have an appreciation for pate … must be the liver element and I must be adopted. There used to be an eaterie who made their own fresh pate which was delicious. I’d so love to make your light version and maybe make a convert out of my husband.

    1. Sissi Post author

      Ping, finally it is not so weird if you think of kimchi like a close cousin of pickles. (There are for example fermented cucumbers, which are Polish/Russian/Hungarian tradition and they are perfect served instead of the vinegared cucumbers). I think I should have added “without liver” in the title, because even though it’s with 20% liver, the chicken liver doesn’t leave any taste, but somehow binds the whole dish together. I think it would be possible also to make it without liver. The taste is turkey/chicken and nutmeg and I don’t think I would recognise liver here. Maybe when it bakes the smell is a bit livery…

  6. Glamorous Glutton

    What a great looking pate. I love making pate but, for some reason only make it in the summer. Also I tend to make coarse ones so I will definitely give this a go it will be great for the drinks ‘Do’. GG

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, GG. It’s funny: I make this one practically only in Winter. I have never made the coarse, French-style one, but I buy it very often. My favourite French pâté is always the one made with duck.

  7. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Okay, I don’t even know how to type pate properly with the little mark on top, let me cut and paste.. your pâtés look amazing. My mom used to buy it for holiday time (I think…if my memory is correct) but I remember it wasn’t my favorite food… I was really particular about taste and texture when I was younger. I haven’t had this for a looooooong time. You always have a nice surprise Sissi. You have to make me this one and I might be able to erase my memory of pâté. 😉 Thanks for the email (and sorry my inbox is accumulating…) Enjoy your weekend Sissi – I’m going to see MI4 tonight. Last time I saw a movie was when I was in Taiwan too… free babysitter is nice! 😉 Chat with you later!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Nami, thank you for the kind comment. From your comment and other comments I assume you all have experienced liver pâtés and this is a meat pâté, so the taste is meaty not livery. Liver “spices up” everything but is not even obligatory. I have never liked 100% liver pâtés either (unless it’s with foie gras of course!). Have a great time at the cinema and during the rest of the holidays!

  8. Liz

    I have never made chicken pate…but I love to eat it! I don’t think I even have my mom’s recipe, so I’ll have to try yours! Beautiful photo~

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you so much, Liz! I don’t know if you would like my pâté, but I can at least guarantee that the recipe is very easy!

  9. Cooking Gallery

    I’ve never had chicken pâté but I love Leberwurst on bread, so I am sure I’d love chicken pâté too. So far I’ve only tried pork and duck-based liver pâté, but I used to eat too much of them, now I am having a bit of a break from eating leberwurst ;). I also love ‘Leberknödelsuppe’ or liver dumpling soup. Do you have this specialty soup in Switzerland as well?

    1. Sissi Post author

      I have never heard of liver dumpling soup. Maybe it’s popular in other parts of Switzerland… In the French speaking part most dishes are similar to the French cuisine… Leberwurst sounds very interesting. I think I have seen it in a tv program (you know the kind where someone travels in different countries and show specialties). I will certainly buy it when I go to Germany!

  10. Charles

    Ah, so lovely to have a new paté recipe to try – I will try this when I come back from my vacation! I’ve been making my chicken liver paté with port and thyme recently for some parties I’ve had and I totally agree – people seem to think paté making is in the realm of only “maître charcutiers” or something. The look on their face when I tell them I made the paté myself is priceless. One person even grabbed me into an embrace when I told her she could take the rest of the paté in the jar home, lol 😀

    I added this to my pinterest.com noteboard, so you can be sure I’ll be trying this soon! Thanks Sissi!

    1. Sissi Post author

      Hi Charles, I’m happy you like my recipe and would be thrilled if it inspired you somehow. This is not a typical French pâté and now I’m even wondering if I shouldn’t have called it “terrine”…
      I would love to see your guests’ faces! I know exactly what you mean: it’s like with foie gras. Even the butchers doubt if you are able to take the nerves out (not to mention making a terrine they sell at double price!). I have bought yesterday a foie gras and insisted on having the one with veins (cheaper and I would have to inspect their quick deveining anyway). I said I even liked deveining. The butcher was as surprised as if I was saying I wanted to kill the duck myself 😉

  11. Bea

    Dawno juz nie jadlam takiego domowego, miesnego pasztetu… Nawet ostatnio stwoerdzilam, ze moze pora cos sobie na te swieta przygotowac? Tylko ze wiesz, dla mnie samej… 😉 Zobacze, jak bedzie z czasem.

    Pozdrawiam serdecznie!
    I przepraszam, ze znow tak rzadko tu bywam :/

    1. Sissi Post author

      Bea, to ja przepraszam, ze ostatnio Cie nie odwiedzam! Moj maz nie znosi tego pasztetu, wiec zawsze robie tylko dla siebie. Mroze polowe po prostu (zreszta ta porcja jest bardzo mala: wypelnia “keksowke”).

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Sportsglutton. It must be the pâté season 😉 I hope you are having a lovely weekend too.

  12. shuhan

    that looks yum! I feel a craving for it now! I’ve only made a liver-only version. this sounds a lot lighter and will probably be a good first step for liver-hating people! I love liver though so the richer the better (:

    1. Sissi Post author

      Thank you, Shu Han. It is lighter, but more filling at the same time… Strange, I know. Sometimes I also put some more liver here.

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