Mince Meat Pie
A mince pie is a sweet pie of British origin, filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices called mincemeat, that is traditionally served during the Christmas season in the English-speaking world, excluding the USA. Its ingredients are traceable to the 13th century.
Returning European crusaders brought back Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits, and spices. Originally, mincemeat always contained meat. Many modern recipes contain beef suet, though vegetable shortening is sometimes used in its place.
This was my mother's favorite holiday pie and made to celebrate the first day of Autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and if she could get away with it, Valentines and Easter. Though that never happened. Unfortunately, her recipe is missing.
The traditional method of making the pie is time-consuming. Here is an easier meatless recipe that tastes just as good as the traditional pie.
Easy Mincemeat Pie
Two-Crust mix for 9-inch pie plate
In a medium bowl, stir together mincemeat, pecans, apple, figs, brown sugar, brandy, and lemon peel. Cover; refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Let pie filling stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 425°F. Make pie crusts as directed on box. Stir filling well; pour into crust-lined plate. Top with second crust and flute; cut slits in several places.
Bake on lowest oven rack 40 to 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 5 hours.
*To purchase mincemeat: try Borden None Such Readymade Mincemeat at Walmart
* To make your own mincemeat, here is the easiest recipe for the filling
Makes 1 cup
This quantity is enough to mix with enough apples or pears for one pie, crisp, or cobbler. (Using 8 cups of fruit per, depending on how strong you want the flavor. You can use more or less.) Simply toss the desired amount with your sliced fruit and proceed. Since the candied oranges are slightly sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar in whatever recipe you’re using by a tablespoon or depending on how sweet your apples are, you can leave it out. Dried currants or diced prunes can also replace some of the raisins, for variety. Like regular mincemeat, this will keep for quite a long time and can be made weeks, or even months before you plan to use it. Keep it in a jar at room temperature. The taste of the brandy will mellow nicely the longer it sits.
Traditional Minced Meat
2/3 cup coarsely chopped raisins, dark or golden
1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel
1/4 cup brandy, plus more, if necessary
grated zest of one orange, preferably unsprayed
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Mix everything together and pack in a jar.
Let stand for at least one to three days before using. If the brandy absorbs quickly and the mixture appears dry, add another pour, just enough so the mixture is thoroughly moistened.
Add the apple or pear-based fruit fillings prior to baking.Note: For those avoiding alcohol, try substituting apple cider or juice and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in place of the brandy. If omitting the brandy, this mixture should be refrigerated and used within three or four days. Otherwise, it will keep for at least two months. Candied orange peel is available in well-stocked supermarkets around the holiday season. Look for a brand with no artificial colors and no preservatives, if possible.