What is Quatre Épice?

Four-spices” includes four or five spices usually with roughly equal parts though the proportions vary according to the chef’s preferences. In French cuisine quatre épice is commonly used to season soups, vegetable dishes like ragout, a variety of pot-cooked dishes and in charcuterie such as sausages and terrines.

Quatre Épice adds an opulent peppery heat to flavour rich meat dishes such as beef braised in red wine or venison stew.

There are actually two approaches to quatre épice, the most well known is a savory version and there is also a sweet version used in rich cakes and puddings. Savory quatre épices goes well with rich meats such as game and adds extra flavour with peppery heat to rich, dark beef casseroles cooked in red wine. For each pound of meat use one teaspoon of savory quatre épices, or more according to taste.

Recipe for Quatre Épice

  • 2 tablespoons white peppercorns
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • (optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Put all of the ingredients in a spice mill or blender and process until evenly ground. Store in a cool, dark, dry place. For the sweet version, subsitute the white peppercorns with the same amount of allspice.