Light Chicken Terrine with Nutmeg


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

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). 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.


36 Replies to “Light Chicken Terrine with Nutmeg”

  1. Home made pates or terrines are not something I grew up with, but I would like to taste it as all the ingredients sound very tasty. It reminded me somewhat of a poached chicken sausage that Sawsan posted a while back.

  2. I made my first pate this year…like you said, easy to do, and so, so yummy! My parents would have liver pate for parties, too…such fun memories! Your terrine looks wonderful, Sissi!

  3. Sissi, I think it’s utterly cool that you make your own pâté and I’m comforted to hear that it’s relatively straight forward to do so. I have never made my own and I think my husband would be absolutely thrilled to see it appear as part of a Sunday afternoon charcuterie lunch. Having both been raised by French Canadian moms, it would bring back some childhood memories for sure. So glad that you posted it and your inclusions sound delicious too – you manage to pack in some great veggie content and the nutmeg sounds perfect here. I am also very accustomed to liver in pâté so the chicken is a refreshing switch-up!

    1. Thank you very much, Kelly. It’s time consuming, but really easy. Beef and pork-based pâtés usually include some fatty meat too, so this one is particularly light.

  4. Sissi, this is a ‘nice’ one! Born where I was ‘pasteet’ or pate was on the menu all the time of course. usually fine ground, made with chicken livers or calves liver. When I grew up, got married and began travelling around, the French terrine types became beloved, especially pork/venison ones. Can’t actually remember a chicken one, which makes this very special! Love your use of semolina whichI have not seen before but which also appeals! This is not at all a ‘fatty monster’, so shall makes it soonest and my results will probably turn up on your blog at some odd time!!!!!!!!!!

    1. This is not a French-style terrine, but I regularly see chicken terrines now in France: some butchers think of those who are on a diet or who don’t want to eat the traditional fatty pâtés and terrines. The semolina is required here to keep things together. A kind of binder. There is not fat (or cream added in French poultry terrines), so I added the semolina (my mum advised). When I prepare the beef and pork terrine, I always add some fatty meat and it keeps without semolina. This is a totally guiltless terrine/pâté, you are right.

  5. What an interesting recipe Sissi; I’ve always made pâté the same way as my Mom, just livers and they were usually chicken livers — this one certainly looks a bit more heartier than our traditional version. And the addition of nutmeg is certainly a very French. You mention having this as an appetizer, would you serve it as a slice with the condiments? Would you eat it with knife and fork, or simply spread on bread (we ate it as a spread). I really like this idea, very rustic but gourmet at the same time.

    1. Thanks a lot, Eva. This is not a French recipe, but Polish. In France they use more herbs in pâtés/terrines than other seasonings and if they add nutmeg (not regularly), it’s “a pinch”, so it’s lots in a mixture of other spices. Here it’s the key seasoning and it’s really powerful (I wish I could make you smell the enticing aroma…). In Polish pâtés/terrines nutmeg is the crucial element and I could never imagine these without nutmeg. I have it most often on a canapé (I love it with thin crunchy bread!) with some horse radish and pickled pepper; when cut into squares, it can be served at a party with pickles and olives; my mum served it along with other cold meats and salads. It would be great in sandwiches too. You cannot spread it because it’s solid like a cake, not like the spreadable pâté.

    2. I have just updated the post because after reading your comment I have checked some photos on English websites and realised that in Northern America pâté is associated most often with the spreadable soft version, so I think “terrine” might be a better choice here…

  6. What a beautiful terrine Sissi! Reading the ingredients I just know we would LOVE it!

    Recently Elisabeth invited me to make up an Easter Menu. I did that and now I would like you to join in the fun. There is no need to cook for it, just pick some dishes from your blog to make up an Easter menu. You are my oldest young foodie friend and even though this appears to be a Hungarian thing, I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving with being a good cook and with a part Polish background since Poles and Hungarians were always good friends. I hope you can join us and if you do, I will look forward to your unique ideas and what you think an Easter feast should look like. Read more about this on my blog. There I supplied the link to Elisabeth’s blog and to the Hungarian blogger who started with the idea.

    1. Thank you very much, Zsuzsa. It’s very homely, but festive and easy, so I hope you might try it one day.
      I am touched by your kind words, Zsuzsa. I am proud to be your oldest young (I’m not so young!) foodie friend and would be honoured to participate in the “game” 😉 I don’t think I have many typically Easter dishes though… I must check what I can offer. I am jumping to your blog to see the details. Thank you again.

      1. I am delighted you will do an Easter post Sissi. It could well be an un-Easter one you know… perhaps a springtime list of favourites.

        Yes this one definitely goes on my do list. 🙂

        1. Thank you, Zsuzsa, for the encouragement. I have already started to work on it. I hope to do it before Easter (just joking!).

  7. I never made terrine…one of this days I must try…I love chicken pate and always buy at the local store.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you are having a nice week Sissi 🙂

  8. My mom always have chicken liver pate as one of appetizer for party, and I never liked it. Now I can definitely appreciate it more. She usually buy terrine from this specialty store though. I never knew it’s so easy to make!

    1. Liver pâté or terrine is not for everyone… The spreadable soft liver pâté is not my favourite either (frankly speaking it’s not as popular at French butcher’s as baked pâtés or terrines, apart from the duck liver mousse, which is really a spread and contains a lot of foie gras and can be delicious). I prefer this one with lots of chicken meat and just a bit of liver to improve the taste. It’s really easy (but takes time).

  9. I love your Light Chicken Terrine with Nutmeg! I always enjoy homemade recipes that brings back childhood memories. I really love nutmegs and I think I’ll go to town with it and be really happy with your recipe. 🙂

  10. Beautiful served terrine, and I like the addition of nutmeg! I have similar memories of my grandma cooking a similar chicken and turkey terrine for Christmas, Easter and well, all occasions and for me this is still one of the dishes that signs “special day”.

    1. Thank you very much, Gourmantine. It’s incredible that your grandmother baked something similar…

  11. I have made vegetable, meat and seafood terrines but never chicken. Your terrine with its flavors of nutmeg sounds delicious and different from what I have had. I’m sure each time you have it that you think of all the family holidays where you enjoyed it.

    1. Thanks a lot, Karen. I must prepare a seafood terrine one day too… I have never tried it.

  12. Well, this certainly isn’t one of your simple recipes, but it certainly looks like another jewel of a recipe! When I first saw the picture I wanted that slice that you’ve cut off. Now that I’ve going through the recipe, I want the whole thing! 1/2 of a nutmeg? That’s A LOT of nutmeg, but from what you said – it’s a must. It usually takes me a year to go through one whole nutmeg. 🙂 I’m pinning this so I can remember to make it during one of my slow periods. It’s a process, but the result looks worth it!

    1. Thank you very much, MJ. It’s simple really and difficult to fail, but definitely time-consuming. 1/2 nutmeg is a lot, but it’s such a star here and I love this taste so much, I always feel that 1/4 is not enough… I never add so much nutmeg to any other dish, though.

  13. I have never attempted making a terine at home as it is something my men won’t eat very happily! What I love in this one is the addition of nutmeg. It is one of my favorite and most used spices in my kitchen!

  14. Hi Sissi, I must admit – this die-hard chocoholic won’t be trading in his easter eggs for terrine just yet, but I’d definitely go for a slice or ten. It looks very, very good and you’re quite inspirational to me. I really want to get around to trying to make more terrines (it’s been on my to-do list for about 2 years :p) and patés after seeing a show featuring delightful looking meat products… mm, I could really go for that right now, it’s making me hungry 😀

    1. Hi, Charles. It’s not a French-style terrine/pâté but I have also been meaning to post a typical French one also for ages… It takes so many ingredients in general… Thanks a lot for the compliments. This terrine is really very easy and so good with horseradish….

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