Pork, Beef and Liver Terrine

Leave it to the French to create a dish that tastes and looks incredibly gourmet even though it’s made from not much more than ground meat. Making pâté de terrine does not take extraordinary culinary skills or exotic ingredients, but the results are impressive and extraordinarily delicious. Well-seasoned, fatty meat is combined with egg, whole cream and brandy for added richness and flavor and then – this might just be our favorite part – the whole thing is wrapped in bacon. Once the pâté de terrine has been baked and then chilled, it’s sliced thinly and served with mustard and cornichons (that’s French for gherkin) on the side.

As the name suggests, pâté de terrine (often shortened to just “terrine”) is pate that has been baked in a container called a terrine, which is basically a long, thin loaf pan. If a terrine sounds familiar even though you aren’t well-versed in French cuisine, then you might be thinking instead of a terrine’s distant cousin, meatloaf. Meatloaf is like the lazy man’s terrine. Meatloaf takes less time to make, is eaten hot right out of the oven and has a texture closer to a hamburger than a smooth, dense pâté. Think of a terrine as the ultimate meatloaf: more meat, more fat, more flavor.

Rabbit, pork, veal and duck are the most common meats used in a terrine and while you can use just one, we recommend blending at least two types together. Pork (such as ground pork shoulder) is almost always blended in because it adds flavorful fat. Liver of some kind is usually included as well, for texture and a rich, meaty flavor. It is not uncommon to add nuts or chunks of meat to the ground meat and if you want to be really traditional, a layer of aspic covers the whole thing. Aspic is a completely clear, savory jelly made from gelatin and clarified meat stock. Making aspic is very time consuming and these days it covers terrines only to make them look pretty. Back in the days before refrigeration, aspic acted as a barrier between the meat and the air, preventing (or at least slowing down) spoilage. In fact, it’s likely that pate came about not because the French were trying to come up with a fancy appetizer, but because the best way to use up old, leftover meat and preserve it for eating later in the week was to season it heavily and cover it with lard and then aspic (or bread, as in pate en croute).

Since all of us have refrigerators and since aspic doesn’t add flavor to the terrine but adds a lot of work, we decided to skip it, and keep things simple but still authentic by just covering the terrine with pork fat (i.e. bacon) instead. For the record, seafood and vegetarian terrines also exist, but if we’re going to go through the trouble of making a terrine, we can’t imagine not using lots of meat and wrapping the whole thing in bacon. We thought you’d agree.

So back to the meat…we chose to use ground pork and beef and chicken livers for this recipe, but if you have access to rabbit or other game, it’s a flavorful substitution for the beef. The livers are blended until smooth in the food processor, but the rest of the meat is ground the same texture as meat for a meatloaf. If you don’t have a terrine pan, then a regular loaf pan works pretty well. Simply line it with bacon, spoon in the meat, cover with foil and bake. Then, you have to have a little patience since the rich and sliceable texture of a terrine is achieved by chilling for 24 hours with weight on top to press the meat down.

The French believe that good food is worth any amount of time and effort, and when it comes to terrines, we have to agree. There is a time and place for meatloaf, but nothing compares to a slice of terrine.


  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound liver (we used chicken livers)
  • 1 pound fatty ground pork (ground pork shoulder works well)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (veal is traditionally used)
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional if you don’t do dairy)
  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts (optional)
  • 12 or so strips of bacon


Sauté onion in butter over medium heat until translucent but not browned. Scrape into a bowl and let cool.

Pulse liver in a food processor until smooth and then transfer to a bowl. With your hands or a large spoon, mix the liver with the ground pork and beef, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice.

Whisk together brandy, eggs and heavy cream. Stir into meat until completely combined.

Line bottom loaf pan (or terrine pan, if you own one) crosswise with strips of bacon, laying them as close together as possible without overlapping. Leave a 1 to 2 inch overhang of bacon on one side.

Fill the pan with half of the meat mixture, taking care not to move the bacon on the bottom. Sprinkle the pistachios nuts on top then cover with the remaining meat.

Cover the top of the terrine lengthwise with three strips of bacon then fold the overhang of bacon over the top. The terrine can be refrigerated up to 8 hours before baking it and although optional, this step will help meld and intensify the flavor.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cover the loaf pan with three layers of tightly sealed foil (if your terrine pan has a lid, foil isn’t necessary). Put the loaf pan in a large, deep roasting pan and set it on a rack in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, surrounding the terrine in a water bath.

Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer inserted into the center hits 150-155 degrees F. Remove the terrine from the oven, remove the foil, and let it rest 30 minutes.

Put a piece of parchment or wax paper over the terrine. On top of the parchment or wax paper, put a thicker layer on which to set some cans or other weight – a piece of cardboard covered in foil and cut to fit exactly over the meat works well. On top of the cardboard, set a few cans, weights, or bricks. The weight presses down on the meat, making the texture dense and sliceable.

Cool the terrine at room temperature for an hour or so then place it in the fridge (with the weight on top) and chill 24 hours.

Remove the weight. Run a butter knife around the edge of terrine to loosen it then let the loaf pan stand in 1 inch of hot water for a minute to loosen the bottom.

Set a cutting board over the loaf/terrine pan then flip the terrine so it is setting on top of the cutting board. Slowly remove the pan so the terrine is standing on the cutting board. Slice and serve.

Wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated, the terrine will keep 1-2 weeks.

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52 thoughts on “Pork, Beef and Liver Terrine”

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  1. I love the sound of homemade pate but I was totally clueless about how to proceed. This looks fantastic!

    Pre-paleo, my fave way to eat pate was on crackers or toast points. Who’s got a good serving suggestion?

    1. I eat homemade pate all the time, just like Mark suggests- with cornichons and mustard and a fork. If I serve it to company I always serve with a baguette, but for me, the treat is the rich pate itself slathered with spicy dijon and tempered with vinegary pickles.

      I’d also suggest wrapping individual portions (about 2 oz for me) and freezing. It freezes very well and that way you don’t have to worry about eating it so quickly.

    2. great cracker recipes made with almond flour over at Elana’s Pantry:)

    1. I would assume so! I have a bunch of beef liver and will be making this recipe with that. I need to eat the liver I have and I don’t know of a better way to do it then to make this recipe!

      Thanks Mark and worker bees!

  2. I can easily see this with lamb liver…. which is usually available at my farmer’s market, and if not, and most Halal meat markets (where there is ALWAYS lamb!). Pricey but OH so good!!!!

  3. Couple of things to mention here:

    Indeed, the terrine or pate was invented to use up various bits of meat. The production of these classic items in a professional kitchen is the responsibility of the “Garde Manger” which was literally the person responsible for the cold items, and utilizing EVERYTHING before it went bad. (Hence the literal term “Food Keeper”.)

    You will also get better results with your terrine if you put your food processor bowl and blades in the freezer for 10 or so minutes before starting. The reasoning for this is while you are grinding your meat in the processor, it will generate heat. Cooling the blade first will give you a better, silkier texture…

  4. Its looks like a loaf of bread made from meat. Epic. Now we need to find some bizarre culture that makes alcohol from meat.

  5. I use spreadable pate on sliced smoked lamb or salami. Sometimes I add some soft cheese or hard boiled egg, roll-up or fold over and enjoy.

  6. OMFG…finally a recipe for ME !!!

    Bacon, Pork, Liver, Eggs,…I’m sold.

  7. Bravo Mark…this is spot-on…authentic french pâté made in the same way as I make it here in France…right down to the pistachio layer in the middle…the cover of “bacon” or poitrine fûmé…the brandy (cognac is very good too)..but without the fresh bread crumbs involved in the mixture…I will definitely primalize my recipe by combining it with yours..Even your technique with the water bath and weighting is highly correct and authentic…You are a true gourmet Mark..merci bien!!

  8. What a great coincidence! I was just paging through the cookbooks for just such a recipe. I have had a craving for liver for the past week. Unfortunately I am the only one in the house that likes it. This dish just might gain some household converts!

    1. it’s cooking right now! Can’t wait to try it tomorrow for lunch.

  9. I miss pate. I quit it because I used to get gout. Once things stabilize, I’m going to start exploring organ meats again.

    1. OK – I give up. What’s the connection between organ meats > pate > gout?? I love livers: especially chicken livers.

  10. Wow Mark, you always have these amazing and unique recipes. I’ve always wanted to try French food, but it’s pretty hard to find an authentic restaurant.
    We have a similar dish in Russia, but this looks better. I am going to give this a try when I’m in the mood for cooking. I still want to try that meat pizza recipe you posted a month’s ago or so.

  11. dude. I am so on this one its not even funny! will be my next recipe to make.

  12. Nice recipe!

    I’ve never acknowledged this here, but I don’t eat red meat – only because it doesn’t appeal to me (i.e. I just don’t think it looks good – I suppose it is good, but I don’t want to eat it, so I don’t).

    I do eat lots of chicken and turkey and fish. As for this recipe, a variation comes to mind – essentially the same thing, substituting ground turkey for the meat, and adding in some ground nuts and tomato paste.

    If I try it and it comes out, I’ll be sure to share 🙂

  13. I hate liver, so would make this without it. Looks like a definite must-try, sounds delicious!

  14. I don’t know why, but pâté reminds me of dog food. Gross I know, but that’s what I think of when I see it. Definitely not for me!

  15. Stomach rumbling from reading that. Putting ingredients on shopping list, ASAP.

  16. I have been grooving on the charcuterie plates in Charleston SC for the last few months. Charcuterie is a cooking style based on “bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork” (Wikipedia)and can also include pickled vegetables. In Charleston (SC) they are pretty traditional and include lots of offal. I have to tell you that while I was never impressed with liver in my pre-paleo days, I just LOVE the stuff now. I ate it for dinner 4 nights in a row on my last stay. I am there now and have eaten it twice and have 5 more days! NOM NOM – I can’t wait to get home and raid my ice box to try it. This week, beef tongue and pig head was on a platter – YUM. I have two tongues in my freezer and while I don’t have pig head I do have jowls that we are looking to make into guanciale.

    1. read bout head cheese on wiki, u could use your tongue & jowls for that it sounds like a dish that wld suit your taste.:)

  17. Anyone know if you can brown the bacon on the outside? I’m not a fan of that pale exterior.

    1. I loved this and loved the story. In Quebec it’s a Christmas tradition to make touerietrs. I lived there in my early twenties and one lonely Christmas a wonderful family took me in and shared a lovely cinnamon and nutmeg spiced pork pie with me. To this day I make the same recipe every year on Christmas eve and think of them with much gratitude and fondness.

  18. I’m sure it’s good for you, but I feel like I’m getting diarrhea just looking at it. I’ll take my meat unloafed, thanks.

  19. Bought most of the stuff to make this whenever I get around to it.
    I had to get ground chicken instead of pork though (couldn’t find any).
    Hopefully it stills turns out well!

  20. I´ve also made home-made pates with chicken livers (from free-range, organic chickens), and of course, using home-made mayo. . . yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
    thanks for this recipe! Guess what I´ll be doing on Saturday afternoon?

  21. I made this following the recipe exactly, except I didn’t have Kosher salt so I only put in 1/2 tsp. of table salt. It turned out perfectly! I thought I wouldn’t like the pale bacon wrapped around it, but it really becomes part of the terrine and you don’t even notice it. It was absolutely delicious with some old-fashioned mustard and gherkins on the side. And I really like that it keeps for 1-2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen. It looks beautiful, too, with the pistachios in the middle.

  22. This is timely. A small cheese shop just opened in my ‘hood, and he sells al sorts of terrines from Quebec… pheasant, deer, wild boar. They’ve been a lunch staple… but I wanted to make my own. This recipe looks perfect!

  23. My mom and I made this and we had a lot of fun together assembling it. It’s pretty fun to get in there and really mix the meat together with your hands. It’s not as good as what I remember eating in France, but my mom likes it a lot and the bacon fat that came off during cooking is amazing tasting. Thanks for the step-by-step tutorial Mark! Oh and also – if you’re missing some of the ingredients, forge on. I don’t think we had allspice, so we substituted with some more cloves, no cognac so we used red wine and this still turned out great and it’s just fun to look at such a beautiful piece and think, “Wow, I made that!”

  24. Has anyone tried without heavy cream? If so, did you substitute with anything? Looks awesome and want to try.

  25. Have used this recipe repeatedly, tweaking each time. I get pork liver and caul fat (a webbed fat from the kidneys) from a farmer. Use the Caul fat instead of bacon, and being a Southerner,have settled on pecans for inside instead of pistachios, and have added a few dried chopped apricots with a nice effect. Soaked them in the brandy so they didn’t turn to leather before I added them. Today’s was, I think the best, as I used Southern Comfort instead of brandy- really pointed up the sweet liver! Here’s to you, Janis!

  26. Thanks for this great recipe but what do you think about using ground pork? After reading quite recent articles on the WAPF website they say that pork should be cured or soaked in vinegar for some time before use otherwise it affects the blood.

  27. I made this the other day and it was excellent. I used half and half calves liver and grass fed beef.

    I was never a liver fan, but I’ll be making this again. The butcher I went to didn’t have grass fed liver, so I went with calves — which he says is grass fad. It was about $8/lb so I’ll be shopping around for regular grass fed beef liver.

  28. It’s in the oven as I type I am a great lover of pâté so looking forward to my creation. Will keep posted. Must not forget the gherkins.