"Terrine" is the name of both the ceramic vessel  in which the dish is baked (terrine à foie gras), as well as of the end product (terrine de foie gras).

  • Preparation time - fig compote: 10 minutes.
  • Cook time - fig compote: 45 minutes.
  • Preparation time - foie gras: 1 hour or more
  • Preparation time - terrine: 30 minutes
  • Bake time - terrine: 15 minutes.
  • Makes two terrines of about 350 grams (3/4 lbs).
  • Make the compote one or more days ahead of making the terrine.
  • The fresh duck liver must be very cold before deveining it.


  • Ingredients for the fig compote:
  • 150 grams (5 oz.) dried figs
  • do not use dried figs that were harvested in biblical times and are hard!
  • 2 tablespoons chopped (at least quartered) walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of fine crystal sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of orange blossom honey
  • 4 tablespoons of Armagnac - do not worry, the alcohol will entirely evaporate in the process!
  • actually, I think you should worry!
  • if you live in an uncivilized part of the world and don't have Armagnac in your liquor cabinet, you may commit sacrilege, and use Cognac.
  • pinch of salt

You guessed it: figs!

(Turkish, to be precise)

  • Ingredients for the terrine:
  • 1 fresh duck liver (foie gras frais) of about 750 grams (1.5 lbs)
  • coarse sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper


  • medium size (1 liter , 1 quart) sauce pan for the fig compote
  • paring knife
  • two ceramic terrines (1/2 liter , 1/2 quart)
  • food/meat thermometer



There are three steps. First the fig compote is made. This can be done a day ahead. Of course, if you prefer to make the terrine without a layer of fig compote, you may skip this. Next, the fresh foie gras has to be prepared. The biggest job is removing major blood vessels and associated tissue. Finally, the terrine is baked.

  • Instructions for the fig compote:
  • remove the stems from the figs
  • quarter the figs
  • put all compote ingredients in a sauce pan
  • add water such that the ingredients are well covered
  • bring to a slow simmer, while stirring regularly
  • continue until reduced to a very thick consistency is obtained and the fig skins are soft; then remove from heat, and cool to room temperature.
  • this should take at least 45 minutes; if it becomes very thick before that time, add some water.
  • when cooled off, the compote should be hard to "cut" with a spoon! So, don't even try and use fig jam or store bought fig compote: your terrine will be a disaster, as the foie gras below the layer of compote will not be cooked!
  • The compote can be kept in the refrigerator, but must be at room temperature when used in the terrine!

  • Instructions for preparing the foie gras:
  • See the photos below. If done well, this is a very time consuming process. But you don't have to remove every little vein or artery. Once you're done, it may look like you have buggered up the entire liver! Don't worry, it will get puttied back together in the terrine.
  • Put the liver in ice cold water (or in a very cold refrigerator) several hours before you prepare it. The liver will warm up when you are handling it by hand. It will become slippery/greasy, as will your hands.
  • Once you split the liver into its two lobes, put the lobe that you are not working on back into the cold water.


An entire raw foie gras

(source: Chef Simon)


Carefully pull the two lobes apart


Blood vessels (with and without blood) and some connective membranes become visible


Pulled apart fully, the major venous paths are obvious - lift them up and remove


The de-veined, de-nerved liver

  • Instructions for the terrine:
  • prepare the liver as shown above.
  • have the fig compote at room temperature (important!)
  • pre-heat the oven to 160 °C (320 °F), with the rack at mid-height
  • spread a teaspoon of coarse salt evenly across the bottom of terrine dishes
  • spread a generous amount of fresh ground pepper evenly across the bottom of terrine dishes
  • fill the terrine dishes with liver, to just below half height of the terrines
  • important: with thumbs or fingers, press the liver firmly into the dish, especially the corners.
  • spread a 1 cm (1/2 inch) layer of fig compote across the liver
  • note: as stated before, if the compote is soft or even runny at room temperature, the liver below the compote will not get cooked!
  • fill the rest of the terrine dish with liver, and press into place
  • spread coarse salt and pepper evenly across the top, and press into the liver
  • place the dishes (without lid) on a rack (not on a sheet!) in the middle of the oven
  • this is the "direct baking" method. There are several other methods - not all suitable with a layer of fig compote: the terrine dishes placed in a drip pan with hot water ("bain marie"), foie gras sealed in an airtight plastic bag ("sous vide") placed in a hot water or steam bath, in a pressure cooker ("autocuiseur"), baked in a canning jar ("bocal"), or the liver is flattened, seasoned, rolled up, and boiled ("balottine")
  • bake for 15 minutes
  • the center of the liver should reach a temperature of 45 °C (115 °F)
  • remove from oven, put the lid on each dish and let cool; the yellow duck fat will have surfaced, and seals the liver
  • after it has cooled off completely, keep in refrigerator


A slice of the terrine

(sorry for the fuzzy picture...)


  • remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving
  • serve slices of the terrine, with fig compote or quince jelly on the side


  • I use the same fig compote in my Duck Wellington recipe.
  • Obviously this recipe is made with foie gras of duck, not of goose! I prefer duck, and I live in the southwest of France: duck country. Force-feeding geese is cruel, as they resist. Ducks don't resist like geese, and the feeding only takes 2x 10 seconds a day during the last two weeks of their 3-4 month life. The ducks are typically free-roaming (I cannot judge the practices in China and eastern Europe, but countries where humans have no rights, animals have even less). Compare that to the horrible life of industrial chickens!

External links last checked: October 2015

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©2005-2016 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.