A quacking good spread: Traditional duck terrine

From the fatty flakes of really good rillettes to a flavour-packed terrine, duck deserves to become more than your average pâté.

Even though this terrine looks ever so professional in the picture, it really is quite simple to make. It was the result of a morning shop at a local farmer’s market, where I found good duck—and, unusually, several bargain necks for sale with folds of fat still attached – as well as some deeply savoury sausagemeat. Because of the bonus duck skin, I decided it would be ever so nice to line the terrine with it – who wouldn’t? – but as this isn’t a readily available commodity, do use thin slices of fatty, streaky bacon instead.

Note: you will need a mincer, either hand-cranked or as a mixer attachment, to make this recipe. A food processor will overwork the ingredients, causing an unsatisfactory, paste-like consistency.

The terrine, once cooked, will need to be lightly pressed to ensure a firm texture. Usually, I employ a piece of stiff cardboard from a box – the flaps from a wine carton, say – scissor-cut to fit the surface of the terrine and then generously and tightly wrapped in foil.

Leave in the fridge for at least three days before serving.

Traditional duck terrine

Serves 8–10

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  • 2 large duck breasts, skin attached, cut into strips
  • 100g pork back fat, cut into strips
  • 200g duck (or chicken) livers, trimmed of any discoloured parts
  • Good-quality sausagemeat, to equal the weight of the duck breasts
  • 50ml Port
  • 50ml Cognac
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1tspn herbes de Provence
  • A third of a nutmeg, grated
  • Half a teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 2tspn coarsely crushed black peppercorns
  • 15–20 thin slices of streaky bacon (I have also used pancetta from the supermarket with great success)

Using the medium-hole disk of a mincer, feed the duck, back fat and livers through it into a roomy bowl. Loosely mix together with a spoon, then mince for a second time using the same disk. If your chosen sausagemeat is coarsely ground, include it in the second mincing. Otherwise, now add the sausagemeat, Port, Cognac, wine, herbs, spices and seasoning and mix thoroughly together, preferably using your hands in both a clutching and circular motion to obtain an entirely homogenous mass.

Pack into a suitable, lidded container – a sturdy plastic box is ideal here – and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C/325˚F/gas mark 3. As neatly as possible, line a terrine/pâté/loaf tin with the bacon/pancetta, slightly overlapping the slices and allowing enough overhang so that, after filling with the mixture, this excess can then be folded over the exposed surface to seal it.

Tightly cover with foil, place in a roasting tin and surround with water from a boiled kettle – stop about 2cm–3cm from the top of the container. Cook in the oven for an hour and
a quarter, then remove the foil and cook for a further 25–30 minutes or until the bacon is lightly gilded.

Remove the terrine from the water and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.

Press the terrine (see note) with the help of 2–3 tins of food or a small brick, should you have one to hand. Tightly wrap with clingfilm and allow to mature and ripen in the fridge for at least 3–4 days before serving with cornichons, tiny silverskin onions, cold butter and baguettes.