Duck Breast Pate

The Meal

Duck Breast Pate

Pâté is a somewhat misunderstood food. The word pâté really just means paste. I think that what comes to mind when people think of pâté is some sort of spreadable paste made with liver. That is a common and delicious type of pâté, but there’s a whole lot more to pâté than just that.

The origin of pâté was in two forms: en terrine and en croûte. Pâté en terrine simply refers to a pâté that is baked in a mold of some kind. Terrines typically come out as something of a loaf, with a thick, slicable texture. The other traditional preparation for pâté, en croûte, is similar, though it is baked in a pastry rather than just a mold or pan. Interestingly, the pastry crust of pâté en croûte was not traditionally consumed–it was only there to keep the pâté together. Both pâté en terrine and pâté en croûte are what would these days likely be called a country pâté due to their loaf-like texture. While those are very tasty, I prefer something that can be spread on a cracker or piece of bread.

This recipe that I’ve put together uses brined duck breasts, some vegetables, a handful of spices, a bit of pork, and a healthy amount of butter to create a nice, spreadable paste. I made it using the very last diver duck breasts in the freezer, but was so chuffed with how it came out that I don’t think I’d do anything differently if I made it again.

Perhaps the best thing about this recipe is that it is honestly really easy to make. I read a lot of pâté recipes while I was putting this together and didn’t find one that was anywhere near so simple. It really is fool-proof and produces an excellent pâté.

For the brine:
1 lb. duck breasts, trimmed
1 large shallot
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp peppercorns, smashed
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp thyme
⅔ cup sherry
⅓ cup brandy
1 cup water

For the pate:
6 slices bacon
1 stick butter

Mix up brine, add duck breasts, and store in the fridge for 3 days to allow the flavors to permeate the meat.

After the 3 days have passed, remove the bay leaves from the brine and dump the rest into a big pot. Cut the bacon into one-inch pieces and add to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until duck and bacon are cooked through, around 10 minutes.

Remove the solids from the pot with a slotted spoon and put them in a food processor. Add the butter, chopped into 1 tbsp pieces, and puree until smooth. If you would like it smoother, add more butter or other oil. If you need more flavor, add a little bit of the cooking liquid. If not salty enough, add salt or more of the cooking liquid.

Serve with crostini and mustard. It makes an excellent addition to a charcuterie plate that will be sure to impress your friends.


  1. Sounds great! I’ve done a similar preparation but at the end you use less butter, and instead fold in some homemade whipped cream. Gets you the dairy fat you need, but also makes it a little lighter and airier. Always looking for ways to use that diver meat 🙂

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