Mincemeat is a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits (such as brandy), spices, and sometimes beef suet, beef, or venison. It is a traditional ingredient in mince pies, which are a popular Christmas dessert in the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Commonwealth. The mixture can be stored for an extended period in an airtight jar and may be used in sweet or savory dishes. Modern commercial mincemeat usually contains beef suet, while vegetarian versions use butter or other hard fats instead.
The good news for you is that the below recipe for mincemeat does not require you to first create the universe. So don’t let it intimidate you. It’s not as bad as it looks.
- 1 lb (450g) cooking apples
- 1 lb (450g) raisins
- 1 lb (450g) currants
- 1 lb (450g) sultanas
- 8 oz (225g) suet
- 8 oz (225g) brown sugar
- 4 oz (100g) candied peel
- 2 lemons, zest and juice
- 2 oranges, zest and juice
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 cup (125ml) brandy (or other spirit, like rum or sherry)
- Peel, core, and chop the cooking apples into small pieces.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the chopped apples, raisins, currants, sultanas, suet, brown sugar, candied peel, lemon and orange zest, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
- Stir in the lemon and orange juice and brandy. Mix everything together well.
- Transfer the mixture to a sterilized jar or jars and seal tightly.
- Store in a cool, dark place for at least one month before using to allow the flavors to develop. The mincemeat will keep for several months.
Note that this recipe makes a large batch and may be best suited for those cases where you’re planning a big Christmas party. If you don’t need the full amount all at once, it’s not hard to halve it or store it in jars in a cool, dark place until you need it. Also, you can adjust the amount of sugar, spices and fruit according to your taste. The traditional recipe may also include meat such as beef or venison.
…Now, on to the pies.
Ingredients (for each pie):
- 14 oz (400g) shortcrust pastry (you can make your own or buy pre-made)
- 2 cups (500g) mincemeat
- 1 beaten egg, to glaze
- icing sugar (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Roll out the shortcrust pastry on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 inch (3 mm).
- Cut out rounds of pastry using a fluted cutter to make the tops of the pies. Reserve the trimmings.
- Use the pastry rounds to line a 12-hole pie tin.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of mincemeat into each pastry case.
- Roll out the pastry trimmings and cut out stars or other shapes using a cookie cutter.
- Brush the beaten egg over the edges of the pastry cases, then place a pastry star or other shape on top of each pie.
- Brush the tops with the remaining beaten egg.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the tin.
- Dust with icing sugar (if desired) before serving.
This is a basic recipe that you can experiment with and adjust according to your taste. Feel free to get creative with the shapes of your pastry, you can also add nuts or other ingredients to the filling, or top the pies with a crumble. Mince pies are usually served warm with a dollop of whipped cream or brandy butter.
Other ideas for using mincemeat if you don’t need a lot of pie:
Mincemeat tarts: Roll out pastry dough and use it to line small tart tins. Fill with mincemeat and bake until the pastry is golden brown. If you want, you can add a little mild cheese to the tarts before baking. These tarts can be served warm or cold and are great as a dessert or a festive treat.
Mincemeat turnovers: Roll out pastry dough and cut into squares. Place a spoonful of mincemeat in the center of each square and fold the pastry over to create a triangle shape. Pinch the edges together to seal and brush with beaten egg. Bake until golden brown.
Mincemeat and apple pie: This is similar to traditional mince pies, but with the addition of sautéed apples to the mincemeat filling. It gives a nice texture to the filling and a little bit more of sweetness.
Mincemeat bread pudding: Mix together breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, sugar, and mincemeat. Pour into a greased dish and bake until set. This is a great way to use up stale bread, and it makes a comforting, warming winter dessert.
Mincemeat, Cranberry & Almond Eve’s Pudding
Mincemeat streusel: Mix together mincemeat, butter, sugar and flour. Spread the mixture over a pie crust and top it with streusel crumbs before baking.
Mincemeat cheesecake: Mix together cream cheese, sugar and mincemeat. Spread over a crust and bake until set.