Country Game Terrine

A terrine is a fabulous food from the charcuterie family that I enjoy making when my husband brings home pheasant or quail from his hunting trips in November, December, and January.

I love including slices of terrine on an hors d’oeuvres spread, for aprés ski time by a fireplace. Not that I ski, but I will put on a warm sweater and enjoy a terrine with good bread, some accoutrements, and of course wine.

So what is a terrine? Well, it’s not liver. To this day, my husband will not eat my terrines because he is sure I have snuck liver into them. There’s NO liver in a terrine, unless of course you want there to be.

It is a mixture of ground meats, flavored and seasoned and cooked with lots of fat so that although dense, they’re moist and flavorful.

You can make layered terrines with multiple meats, or place sausages in the middle, or even cooked eggs, so that the slices are pretty. I don’t do anything artistic, but I do sometimes adding nuts and dried fruits to the meat mixtures so that the terrine is texturally interesting.

What sets a terrine aside from say, a meat loaf? First, there’s a substantial amount of fat incorporated into the terrine mixture to prevent dryness. Secondly, the mixture is marinated in herbs and spices, plus Cognac and Madeira, before cooking begins.

Terrines are cooked slowly in a Bain Marie, and afterwards are weighted down to help create the dense texture. See how well they slice?

In other words, this ain’t no meat loaf!

Terrines are best served at room temperature, but cold is good too. Some people turn leftover slices into yummy sandwiches.

Country Game Terrine

4 tablespoons butter or duck fat
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 pounds fatty pork shoulder or butt, coarsely ground
1 pound mixed game meat or pheasant only, coarsely ground
1/2 pound ham, diced
Large handful chopped parsley
4 tablespoons Cognac
3 tablespoons Madeira or white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup dried cranberries or diced dried cherries
1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
Bacon slices, about 36 ounces
3 bay leaves

Heat the butter over moderate heat in a medium skillet, and sauté until soft. Stir in the garlic, thyme, salt, black pepper, white pepper, allspice, and nutmeg and remove the skillet from the heat.

In a large bowl place the pork, game, and ham. I had to grind the pork first, a coarse grind, followed by a more fine grinding for the quail. The hardest part for this step is remembering how to put the damn meat grinder together.

Add the cognac and the Madeira to the meats, plus slightly cooled onion and spice mixture and parsley. I also went ahead and added the cranberries.

Give everything a good stir, cover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, test the terrine mixture for seasoning by frying up a little bit in a skillet and taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly. The parsley, allspice, thyme, and cognac are extremely important flavors.

Then stir in the heavy cream and egg yolks until well combined. Fold in the pistachios.

Line a loaf pan generously with bacon slices, allowing them to hang over the loaf pan.

Fill the terrine firmly with the meat. Place the bay leaves on the top of the terrine mixture, then fold over the bacon slices to cover completely.

You don’t have to have as much fun as I did with the bacon, because you’re going to be removing it in any case.

Bring the terrine to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and prepare a large, deep pan with water in which to cook the terrine.

Cover the pan with foil tightly; a double layer would be ideal. Place the loaf pan in the water bath and let it bake for about 1 1/2 hours. But many different factors would change the time. So ideally, use an oven probe thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the terrine.

After the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F, remove the pan from the water bath and place on a counter top. Remove the foil to let any steam escape. Leave it alone for about one hour.

Notice I forgot the place the bay leaves under the bacon…

Place clean parchment paper over the top of the loaf pan, and cover with another loaf pan that fits inside it, with weights on top. These can be canned goods or bricks. If you think some of the remaining juices will overflow, cover the bottom with foil topped with paper towels.

Leave it like this until the terrine cools completely, then place in the refrigerator and chill it for 24 hours.

To serve, remove the terrine from the loaf pan carefully, remove the bacon strips and bay leaves, and slice crosswise into 1/2” slices.

The terrine is best served at room temperature.

The cranberry and pistachio combination make this terrine more festive. But just about any dried fruit and nut combination can be used, like diced dried apricot and hazelnuts.

Whatever meat you use, just make sure there’s fat inside, or the terrine will be dry. I learned that the hard way.

Nuts and dried fruits are fun, but not a necessity. And hopefully you can see that no real recipe is needed for a terrine. Just have fun!

56 thoughts on “Country Game Terrine

  • What a gorgeous terrine! I used to make them often years ago but haven’t in an age … I even gave my Le Creuset terrine dish to my son … maybe I shouldn’t have done :) Happy new year to you, Mimi! I always enjoy your lovely blog.

    • Aw thank you Kay! I have a couple of pretty terrines but I always tend to use a standard loaf pan! don’t know why. You just might have to get another terrine for yourself!

  • This is quintessentially French! It’s the sort of thing that I’m drawn to on a restaurant menu, so I’ve had plenty of dreams! But I’ve never made one! Yours looks absolutely fantastic.

    • Thank you. They are so fabulous. I love when they’re served at restaurants, but I find mine better 😬 most of the time. They are seriously so easy to make and seriously no recipe is needed. I was so surprised to see them on pub menus in London and throughout the UK as well.

    • Thank you! I love them so much, and really swear by the cognac, seasoning, and parsley. They end up as fragrant as they are tasty!

  • I made one only back in the early 80s I’m sure it was much simpler than this masterpiecee, and no one would touch it! I stuck with dessert terrines after that! This is inspiring me, though. What a shame your husband won’t eat them, Mimi! I was just trying to think how long it’s been since I’ve had pheasant; ages and ages!

  • Love making Terrines as they are so easy and flavourful. This looks scrumptious- I could devour that any time. Never had the luck to have game meat to use, but I’m hoping.
    Thanks for your lovely recipe. :))

    • They are easy! And game meat isn’t necessary, it’s just a fun way for me to use it since I do little else with itty bitty quail! Pheasant are easier to de-bone. But you do end up with some wonderful stock after you get the meat off of the bones!

  • I’ve never made a terrine, and I have to admit, I’m a bit afraid of liver, too, so I usually don’t eat this type of thing unless I know there’s no liver, but this terrine looks and sounds delicious and festive! I love the cranberry and pistachio addition!

    • The thing with terrines, is that they’re about coarser ground meats, and so liver really wouldn’t work unless you just want it for flavor. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a recipe that includes liver. I love it myself, but it doesn’t go into my terrines. If you dislike liver, though, it’s a good idea to check! Happy New Year!

  • Oh so very French and special! I have never made a terrine, and simply purchase one from a gourmet store. Yours looks absolutely magnificent! I enjoyed all of the step by step photo instructions; so helpful!

    Happy New Year!!

    • Well consider yourself lucky that you can get good ones! I visited Le District once in NYC and their terrines were so beautiful! Happy 2020!

  • Oh Mimi, I laughed when I read your remark about the mincer. I always struggle to remember how mine goes together too! Your terrine looks perfect, as befits a Frenchwoman’s daughter. Happy New Year! Lx

    • Thank goodness for You Tube videos!!! I don’t know why it’s not intuitive to me, or maybe I should just get it out every week! Hope 2020 is perfect for you – I’m excited about your new venture!

  • In France I love the terrines that are available in charcuterie shops and food boutiques. Once at a dinner party at someone’s French country home I had an amazing vegetable terrine: layered in colors. Yes you are so right — an amazing preparation!

    best… mae at

    • Thank you! I’ve never made a vegetable one – It’s something I should try! I love that they’re so rustic but still pretty and fancy in a way, if that makes sense!

  • You’re taking me back to the days of me working in The Woodlands Hotel kitchen when I was a student Mimi. I helped the chefs make Terrine. We served slices of it with oat cakes as a starter. I don’t remember it having berries or nuts in like yours though. But I do remember the Madeira! Ha ha! (funny that eh?) Happy New Year to you Mimi and I hope you had an excellent Christmas too!

    • Thank you Neil! Terrines are just as delicious without nuts and dried fruits, but I like what they provide to the meat mixture. Yes, the marinade is very important. I’ve used white wine but I prefer Madeira!~ Happy New Year!

    • Between raclette and terrines, I should have been a skier! And Swiss at that! But yes, terrines are perfect for entertaining, The leftovers are outstanding. Thank you so much!

    • Anything and everything works in my opinion. Even venison, although I don’t have access to it. They are my favorite part as well, although I’m a big fan of salamis… Happy New Year!

    • Well this is a good excuse, being reminded of how delicious they are. Such a fun part of a charcuterie platter, although you are in the Southern Hemisphere, and not really in an apres ski mood I imagine!

  • This takes me back to dinners in France as a kid, where the entrée (appetizer in France) was often a slice of terrine with cornichons (pickles). Your version looks much better though!

    • Thank you Stefan! I’m sure I used an actual recipe years ago, but now I just love using what I have, so I’ve never made the same one twice. They’re just so much fun to make. And eat!

  • So I had to chuckle when I read your note about your husband’s skepticism of your terrine. I had the same thought when I first clicked into this post! “Terrine…liver…uh, no thank you.” But seeing how there’s no liver in here, I think I could be on board. And I totally agree with you about the darned meat grinder! :-)

    • Aren’t they horrible?!! Why are they not intuitive? Cause I’m not a dummy!! But every single time I get it out….. Well, I think the whole point about terrines is that they’re about coarsely ground meats. So if you remember that, you’ll know that there’s most likely no liver, because of its soft consistency. Happy New Year!

  • Oh Mimi this terrine looks just amazing (looks as opposed to taste because that would require that you invite me to dinner one day). Really super, well done. And Happy New Year – I just love your blog and your knowledge of and attitude towards cooking !

    • It’s a great grinder once I figure out how to use the damn thing! You need to make one again! They’re just so fun.

  • Mimi, what a piece of edible art. You had me with the first ingredient (the duck fat). We always make a Swedish terrin (we leave off the “e”) of wild boar and duck for Christmas, but I’ve not tried making a true French terrine. I must give it a try. Thanks for the great tutorial.

    • You are so welcome! I actually used butter this time, but love cooking with duck fat. I’ve never cooked with wild boar – I should get a big more experimental next fall! Happy 2020!

  • I haven’t made a terrine in years. Decades! When I have the craving, I usually just buy a few slices. But you’re tempting me to make one again. :-) Happy New Yer!

    • Consider yourself lucky that you can buy some! I don’t have anything near me like that, except for maybe whole foods, about 1 1/2 hours away. No delis… But, they really are fun to make, so I hope you make one again!

    • Oh, well that works really well! Terrines really are meaty! But so good with mustard and pickles and good bread…. I’m sure you know. They’re really fun to create.

    • Thank you Adrianne! Sorry I missed this. Terrines are really fun to make, and fantastic on a charcuterie platter!

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