20 November 2012

Terrine de canard : making the meat mixture

The meat, fish, or vegetable mixture that becomes a pâté or a terrine is called a farce in French, or a stuffing. That's because pâté originally meant what is now called pâté en croûte, or a meat stuffing in a crust — a meat pie (like a Cornish pasty). Pâté was the name for the "paste" or dough the meat was cooked in, and for the whole preparation.

The same kind of filling cooked in a baking dish, without the pastry crust, is properly called a terrine. Another difference between a pâté and a terrine is that a pâté can be served hot, while a terrine is always eaten cold. That's what the Larousse Gastronomique says. The fact is, the terms are used almost interchangeably in France today, with the redundant phrase en croûte added to distinguish one way of cooking and serving a pâté from the other.

The mixture for the terrine de canard forestière that I'm making is composed of 10 oz. of lean ground pork and an equal quantity of ground turkey (or veal), along with some chopped liver and one duck breast cut into little cubes.

I used turkey instead of veal and I'm hoping it will be good. I also used rabbit liver rather than duck, chicken, or turkey liver because that's what I found at the supermarket.
The other duck breast (the two filets weighed in at about a pound) is cut into strips that also go into the pâté mixture, but as a middle layer (more about that later). Oh, and about an ounce of shelled pistachios go in also, along with allspice, salt, pepper, and dried thyme.

A terrine needs to be fairly heavily salted because it will be eaten cold. You could certainly put in other herbs and spices, and in fact I added a pinch of cayenne pepper to my mixture.
Finally, three eggs and a tablespoon of starch (corn or potato) get mixed in. That and the ground or chopped liver give the mixture a fairly liquid texture and will give it the right texture after it's cooked. It's cooked now, but I can't try it for another couple of days...

Also, at this point it's time to put two ounces of dried mushrooms in half a cup of dry white wine to soak (separately) overnight.
The pâté mixture, including the strips of duck breast, goes into the refrigerator for 12 hours before it gets cooked in the oven. I just laid the strips of meat over the top of the mixture so that I could lift them off the next day and put them into the terrine as a middle layer.

We'll see how that looks when I slice the terrine on Thursday. The recipe says to put it into the refrigerator for three days after it's cooked to let all the flavors blend, and that's what I'm doing.

By the way, there's another word, pâtée, which is grammatically feminine, not masculine. Une pâtée is a gruel or slop of ground meat, cereals, and vegetables that is fed to farm or domestic animals. Pâtée pour chien is dog food. Isn't that funny?

This is Part 2 of the Terrine de canard series. Here are links to Part 1Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.


  1. From now on, I'm going tom read your posts after lunch, not at breakfast time!

  2. Ah! So THAT is the difference between a terrine and a pâté! I've always wondered. This is all very interesting :)

    Now: what is the difference between une quiche and une tarte, as in Tarte aux poireaux? I've always wondered that, too. I'm wondering if quiche traditionally always has cheese in it, and maybe a savory egg-based tarte doesn't?

  3. Hi Judy,

    I'm trying to answer your question about the difference between a quiche and a tarte.

    It seems to me tarte [tourte] is a generic name for that kind of pastry.

    Quiche is dialectal word from Lorraine, for that kind of tarte.

    Flamiche is a dialectal word from Flanders and Picardy for tarte aux poireaux.

    Pissaladière is a dialectal word from Nice [in Southern France] or Provençal for tarte aux oignons


    and so on...

  4. Farce is forcemeat in English, though I've only seen the term written, never heard anyone speak it aloud. The preparation you are making looks as though it will be wonderful. I've never soaked mushrooms in wine and now I think I must try this.

  5. Judy, the word quiche is related to the German or Alsatian kuchen or küchen, meaning more or less "cake". ("Cookie" probably comes from the same root.) In the Grand Robert dictionary, the definition of quiche says it is a kind of tarte.

    Hi Kristi, I know the term "forcemeat" too, but like you, only from reading it. The "force" in "forcemeat" derives from the French farce, stuffing.

    I took the lid off the terrine de canard today and it smells really good.

  6. These recipes are so involved and take so long. I'm too lazy. I'd rather just buy at my local resto.

  7. Starman, for me this kind of thing is a hobby. I like the idea that I know exactly what went into the terrine, too. Seeing what's involved in making something like a terrine or pâté might make us all better appreciate the food that we get in restaurants.


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