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Canberra Chefs Do Christmas: Duck Pâté by Keaton McDonnell (Ondine)

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Always wanted to bring the taste of your favourite Canberra restaurant to your Christmas table?

We asked six Canberra chefs to share a dish that says ‘Christmas’ to them—and they even gave us the recipe!

This week, Keaton McDonnell of Deakin’s Ondine European Brasserie shows us how to make a show-stopping duck pate.

Tell us about your dish. Why did you choose it?

This Duck Pâté has featured on nearly every menu [co-owner of Ondine] Danny and I have done together. It’s also our go-to snack and our easy to impress to turn up with at friends and family.

To me, Christmas is…

A time to unwind and hopefully spend some time with family. Obviously involving way too much food.

What are your plans for Christmas 2020?

Seeing family and friends who I haven’t had the opportunity to this year and unwind after a busy year, all whilst cooking some fun food.

Tell us about one ‘high’ and one ‘low’ of 2020

High: Opening a restaurant.

Low: Opening a restaurant during a pandemic. 

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Continuing to grow Ondine and enjoying the ride of operating a business.

Duck Pâté

Makes 10 150ml portions


  • 455g duck livers cleaned and soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tsp instacure/sodium nitrite (not necessary just helps from going grey)
  • 30ml vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 5ea eschalot sliced
  • 75g celery chopped
  • 3/4 cup port
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 tablespoon dijon
  • 20ml Gran Marnier
  • 455 unslated butter diced 


Remove livers from soaking liquid and give a quick rinse. Dry thoroughly otherwise the pan may flare.

Season with half salt and fresh ground pepper, (sprinkle over instacure now if using).

Take vegetables and half oil and cook gently in a saucepan until soft and smell sweet—try to not colour as this can make the end product bitter. Add port to this pan and reduce by half.

Heat a thick-bottomed frying pan until hot add remaining oil followed by livers gently.

Sear livers on both sides aiming to cook livers to medium (do not overcook livers as this will make the end product grainy and taste iron-y). Remove liver from pan and set aside.

Return pan to heat and add vegetable and port mix, scraping bottom of pan to deglaze. Reduce port until almost reduced out, add cream and bring to boil quickly.

Add livers back to pan and remove everything from heat. Place contents of pan into a blender also add mustard (we use a commercial-grade vitamix at the restaurant—a domestic blender will do the job but you may have to blend in multiple batches and pass the mix through a sieve to get the super silky result).

Whilst mix is still hot, start to blend until begins to become smooth. In small quantities (think 5 separate additions) add butter and continue blending until emulsified repeat until all butter added.

Season mix with gran marnier additional salt and pepper as desired. Pour into desired mould/containers and place in fridge to set.

Serve with oven-toasted bread.


Belconnen Fresh Food Markets has the freshest ingredients for your Christmas.

Before you make Keaton’s Duck Pâté, make sure to pick up eshalots from Grower’s Market Express, duck from The Chicken Coop and your port wine from Plonk.

For details on all the vendors at the markets, head to belconnenmarkets.com.au/stores and stay up to date on Facebook.


Photography: Keaton McDonnell

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