Serves: Makes roughly 100 shallow Mince Pies
Approx cost: €4.40
Approx calories (per tsp): ~20
Approx preparation and cooking time: 3 hours
If you’re English, you’ll know all about the joys of mincemeat – well, a lot of people seem to detest the stuff, but I’ve always been a huge fan. The name mincemeat for many non-Brits conjures up an image of this, and indeed, I’ve heard stories of people who’ve bought our delicious Christmas delicacies, Mince Pies, taken a bite, expecting meat inside, only to get a mouthful of… “fruit?”. Well, despite the odd name, let me reassure you that this stuff is actually delicious. The idea of adding suet to a dish may be a bit off-putting for some, but in vegetarian-friendly countries (of which France is not one, alas) you can often buy shredded vegetarian suet, made from vegetable oil. If you cannot buy shredded suet at all, then you can make it yourself very easily. Simply buy a lump of beef or mutton fat from around the loins or kidneys of the animal and then grate it, like you would cheese. Commercially, it’s usually tossed in flour which makes it more stable and have a longer shelf-life.
Not convinced by this? Well – wait until you see how it looks before you judge too harshly! In a nut-shell, mincemeat is a whole load of dried fruit, mixed with sugar, brandy, nuts and spices and we use it to, mainly, fill pies with. Traditional ingredients in mincemeat are raisins and sultanas, currants, almonds, apple, candied citrus peel, ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, but the great thing with this is that you can always modify it to suit your tastes. Add some dried apricots, cherries, walnuts, plums – whatever you like. Once you’ve made this then you have no excuse to not immediately start churning out a huge batch of delicious mince pies. The yield of this recipe will mean you have enough for almost 100 shallow mince pies, or about 70 deep-filled ones, depending on how you make them.
I’ve made a post last Christmas on mince pies. The pastry recipe is my mother’s and while everyone has their own favourite shortcrust recipe, this is the one which always makes me think of home, thus for me it’s the perfect accompaniment for your mince pie. I will be making another post on Mince Pies – not really a “redux” because they’re going to be exactly the same, pretty much – but I’ll be in on vacation at the time of posting so hopefully I can provide you with a few photos along with the post! Anyway, on to the recipe, and have a great day everyone!
- 200g Raisins
- 180g Demerara Sugar
- 140g Sultanas
- 120g Currants
- 110g Shredded Suet
- 70g Candied Orange and Lemon Peel
- 40g Almonds
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Orange
- 1 large Granny Smith Apple, or other sharp, tasty variety
- 2 tsps Ground Cinnamon
- 2 tsps Ground Nutmeg
- 1 tsps Ground Ginger
- 1 tsps Ground Cloves
- 5 tbsps Brandy
- Start off by pre-heating the oven to 100 degrees Celsius and then core the apple. Dice finely and then chop the almonds into as small chunks as possible.
- Great the zest from the orange and lemon, before cutting the fruits in half to extract the juice into a bowl.
- Transfer everything except the brandy to a large, oven-proof bowl or pan. I didn’t have such an article, so I used a steel saucepan which I removed the handles from. Place the raisins, sultanas, currants, sugar, candied peel, spices, almonds, orange and lemon zest and orange and lemon juice, the diced apple, and finally the suet, into the pan, and mix well. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and place into the pre-heated oven for 3 hours. Please note, the use of the oven isn’t designed to “bake” anything – hence the low temperature. The idea is to melt the suet and have everything well coated in it, and allow the flavours to infuse and develop!
- After 3 hours have passed, remove from the oven and uncover. There will be a lot of fat at the bottom of the pan. Allow the mixture to cool, stirring every now and again, and once it is cool you will notice that the fat is now coating the fruit nicely. Pour in the brandy and mix well.
- Wash some canning/preserving jars thoroughly and you then place upside down in an oven to pre-heated to 180 degrees Celsius for 5 minutes to sterilise. Carefully remove after this time and transfer the mincemeat into the jars, before applying the rubber seals and close the jars firmly. The mincemeat should last for many months, as long as you have sterilised the jars well. The obvious use for it is, of course, mince pies, but you can also make tarts and other things with it. Enjoy the taste of English Christmas!