Sunday, December 11, 2016


Pâté or terrine is a dish for all occasions. We associate it, especially the pricey duck liver kind, with sumptuous holiday meals, but it’s just as appropriate for snacks.

What I like about pâtés is that they’re not much more complicated to prepare than meatloaf, which they resemble. In classic cuisine, pâté means a forcemeat—a preparation of chopped meat or poultry—enclosed in a pastry case, while terrine is a similar mixture cooked in a loaf pan or earthenware terrine.   

In Spanish, all are called paté—without the cute circumflex accent—whether they are smooth duck liver or chunky country-style terrine.

Studded with pistachios, this chicken pâté is great party food or simple supper.

Ground dark meat, chopped white meat, coarsely chopped fat and livers give textural contrast.

My house pâté is based on a recipe from La Mancha, where it is made with partridge. The gourmet version, potted and canned, is made with duck fat, giving the pâté a smooth, creamy consistency. My version is more home style.

No partridge? No problem. Make this pâté with all chicken or substitute quail, veal, or pork for the partridge. Use both white and dark chicken in the mix. Add truffles, if available. If not, use chopped black olives or pistachios or green peppercorns.

Serve slices of the pâté at room temperature on salad greens accompanied by pickled onions (recipe is here ) and toasts. Or, reheat the pâté and call it meatloaf!

Sherry or red wine? I served fino Sherry with this chicken pâté.

Red wine or Sherry with pâté? If I were using partridge, I’d serve it with a fine reserva red wine from La Mancha. But today’s terrine is all chicken, so I’m pouring fino Sherry.

Partridge and Chicken Pâté
Paté de Perdiz y Pollo

Have the chicken thighs ground by the butcher, but, to provide some textural contrast, chop the breast meat by hand. Use a mini-processor to coarsely chop the pork fat and the chicken livers. The chicken livers are easier to chop if they are seared first.

I usually separate the eggs and fold the beaten whites in at the end to lighten the mixture. I’m not really sure it makes a lot of difference, though.

Vary the spicing and herbs to suit yourself. I like thyme. Nutmeg is good with chicken;  fennel seed with pork, tarragon with veal.

Let the forcemeat mixture season for a few hours before cooking it. Then test the seasoning: make a small patty of the mixture and gently fry or poach it in a small skillet. Taste and add more salt or seasoning if needed.

The pâté keeps, refrigerated, for one week.

Dice chicken by hand.
Serves 12-16.

1 ¼ pounds boned partridge or chicken thighs, ground
1 ¼ pounds boneless chicken breasts, chopped
8 ounces fresh pork back fat or pancetta, coarsely ground
8 ounces chicken livers
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 eggs, separated
¼ cup milk
¼ cup brandy
¼ cup dry or medium Sherry (fino or amontillado)
½ tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup grated onion
½ ounce black truffles, chopped, (or ¼ cup pistachios)
8 slices bacon

Combine the ground partridge or chicken, chopped chicken breast and ground pork fat in a large bowl.

Cut the chicken livers into pieces and sear them in the olive oil in a small skillet. Transfer to a mini-processor and chop coarsely. Add to the bowl with the chicken.

Combine the egg yolks with the milk in a small bowl. Add to the large bowl. Add the brandy, Sherry, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley and grated onion. Use hands or a sturdy wooden paddle to combine the ingredients very well.

Allow the mixture to stand, covered and refrigerated, for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Stir pistachios, if using, into the pâté mixture. 

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the partridge paste. Fold remaining whites into the paste.

Line pan with bacon slices.
Line a 6-cup loaf pan (or two 3-cup terrine molds) with bacon slices. Place half the forcemeat mixture in the pan. If using truffles, scatter them on top. Spread the remaining pâté mixture over.

Place the mold in a pan and fill to half the depth with boiling water. Cover the top with foil. Bake until pâté is set, internal temperature of 160ºF, 60 to 90 minutes (50 minutes for the smaller terrines).

 Allow the pâté to cool, then refrigerate. Unmold the pâté, draining off excess liquid, and slice to serve.

Chill the pâté in the pan before unmolding it.

Use serranted knife to slice the pâté.


  1. You make it look so simple that even I might have a go at it!

    In the absence of partridge, have you ever tried substituting duck breast as the darker meat and, if so, did it work?

    1. Paul S: I haven't tried it with duck breast, but it would probably work well. Use the duck fat instead of pork fat. Good luck!