Boeuf aux Quatre Épices

French Bœuf aux Quatre Épices

Quatre Épices or "four spices" is a French staple blend with white pepper in a prominent role. Black and white pepper derive from the same plant but have different flavors and heat profiles. They are harvested at different stages. In the next step, to receive the white pepper, the skin is removed from the pepper berry. Quatre Épices is used to season hearty stews and soups, or braised root vegetables. This recipe is for a French-style beef stew or one of its variations.
hands-on time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 3



  • 1.25 lb beef stew
  • 7 oz bacon


  • 5 carrots cut into 1-inch slices
  • 10 small shallots peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled, crushed


  • 4 tbsp butter

Packaged Goods/Staples

  • 5 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • salt

Bœuf aux Quatre Épices Culinary Spice Kit

  • white pepper, cloves, ginger, nutmeg

Suggested sides

  • potato croquettes or dumplings, boiled or mashed potatoes, gnocchi, or thick noodles of your choice
  • lettuce or cucumber salad with a light lemon dressing


  • In a large POT, melt the butter.
  • Add the onions whole and the bacon.
  • Cook over medium-low heat until golden, stirring constantly.
    Scoop them out and set aside.
  • In the same POT, cook the meat over high heat until it turns brown, stirring frequently.
  • Add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Sprinkle the meat with flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the broth, mix, and scrape the bottom. Return the bacon and onions.
  • Add the tomato paste, garlic, and Quatre Épices spices. Season with salt to taste. Mix well.
  • Bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Vegetarian (optional)

  • Add 1 lb mushrooms with the onions.
  • 1 tbsp flour is enough for this version.
  • Use not more than 2 cups of broth.
  • Cooks fast in only 30 minutes


Optional/ Variations
▪ Substitute beef with lamb or rabbit.
▪ Substitute 1-2 cups of broth with red wine. 
▪ In the end, stir 1/2 to 1 cup of heavy cream into the sauce, and bring it to a boil. Adjust salt.
▪ Instead of the heavy cream, top your plated meal with a dollop crème fraîche.