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Ingredients, ratios, and uses for quatre épices


Chris Amirault
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I ran out of quatre épices this morning preparing some pork chops, and I need to make a new batch when I get home. I usally follow Paula Wolfert's advice in The Cooking of Southwestern France (thanks to Chris Hennes for looking this up):

10 cloves

1 T white peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick

2/3 t ground ginger

3/4 t nutmeg

Five, not four, but I figure we can give Society member and French food authority Wolfert the wiggle room.

Reading around, I noticed that there are versions with black pepper, allspice, and a few other things, and several resources list it as also being prevalent in Middle Eastern cooking. (Hence this topic's residence in Cooking and not French Cooking.) Of course, if you start adding more spices, you can get to seven and beyond pretty quickly.

As noted above, I grab QE for lots of pork dishes, and it's essential in many of the sausages I make come fall and in the cassoulet I make every New Years. Given that there's little pork in the Middle East, I'm probably missing out on some interesting other uses for the stuff.

What do you put in your QE, and in what ratios? What do you use it for? And what are the rules? When does it stop being QE and become, well, a "spice blend"?

Chris Amirault

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  • 2 weeks later...
Are you happy with this ratio, or are you still experimenting?

Still experimenting, but it's about improving something already quite good. Thoughts?

Any reason (other than cost) you are using cassia instead of true cinnamon?

Because Paula says to do that, and I tend to do what Paula says. :wink:

Seriously, I agree with her: it's a better fit, I think, for this application.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm a big fan of this chutney: Green Tomato and Apple Chutney (though I used quince from the garden rather than apples).

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Okay, this forced me to haul out my old instruction manuals from cooking school:

Quatre Epices - 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (mix of white and black), 1/4 tsp. each cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Pretty close to the above ratios, minus the cinnamon.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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  • 3 weeks later...
Any reason (other than cost) you are using cassia instead of true cinnamon?

Because Paula says to do that, and I tend to do what Paula says. :wink:

Seriously, I agree with her: it's a better fit, I think, for this application.

But since this mixture had its origins in Medieval times, wouldn't cinnamon be more likely? Cinnamon had higher status as a luxury item, I believe.

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