Wild Duck and Pistachio Pate

Duck and Pistachio Pate

Few things are as versatile as home-made pâté or terrine. It can be made in advance, and needn't be fiddly or gelatinous. The recipe below is a straightforward but sumptuous concoction of wild duck, in season now, resplendent in cross-section with a layer of whole breast, surrounded by dark leg meat, minced with brandy and herbs and studded with pistachio nuts. It was created by Sue Ross, an original contributor to A La Carte, one of the most lavish foodie magazines of the 1980s. This pre-metric recipe is reproduced from a collection of the best of the series, Dining A La Carte (Octopus Books, 1988).

On the whole, I find terrines better served by white, rather than red wines, such meaty richness responding to acidity, fruit and a lightness of touch in the glass. This one will go exceptionally well with Frédéric Burrier's creamy and stylish Mâcon-Vergisson.

Janet Wynne Evans

Sue Ross's Wild Duck and Pistachio Pate - For 10-12


  • 2 x 2lb (dressed weight) wild duck
  • 12oz belly pork, boned and skinned
  • 4 fluid ounces brandy
  • 8oz duck or chicken livers
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1½ lb pork fat
  • 1oz shelled pistachios, blanched
  • Flat-leaved parsley


Put the ducks into a roasting pan and the belly pork into another. Roast both in a moderately hot oven (375F/190C/Gas5) for 30 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Remove the breast fillets from each duck with a sharp knife. Remove and discard the skin, then marinate the breasts in the brandy while stripping the remaining flesh.

Dice the pork, then mince it with the duck flesh and the livers. Mix in the eggs, seasoning, allspice and brandy marinade.

Line a 2½ pint dish with three quarters of the pork fat, cut into neat strips. Half fill the dish with the minced meat mixture. Lay the duck breasts on top in a single layer. Sprinkle with nuts and top with the remaining minced mixture and the rest of the fat. Cover with foil, and a lid. Stand the dish in a tin of hot water and bake at 325F/160C/Gas 3 for 2¼-2½ hours. Cool, remove the lid, and weigh down overnight in the refrigerator. Turn out and serve, garnished with the parsley.

Wine recommendation

On the whole, I find terrines better served by white, rather than red wines, such meaty richness responding to acidity, fruit and a lightness of touch in the glass. This one deserves good white Burgundy - perhaps a serious Mâcon, like Frédéric Burrier's creamy and stylish Mâcon-Vergisson or a Pouilly-Fuissé.

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