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Nov 25, 2009 08:08 AM

Mince Meat Pie

I have a friend who is a very famous chef who flattered me tremendously be emailing me and asking if I had a recipe for mince meat pie. The real answer is, sadly, no, but if I wanted to impress him with some great recipe, does anyone have any suggestions?

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  1. My recipe is to use both Nonesuch and Crosse & Blackwell prepared mincemeats, and add some glugs of Old Overholt Rye Whisky, But, I suspect that might not impress him! I have read many of recipe for mince meat (mostly from English cookbooks) but have never tried them - in part because they seem to make huge amounts of mince meat.

    12 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Yes, I read that this was a way to preserve things, so they made huge amounts.

      1. re: roxlet

        It was a way to preserve MEAT, you will notice. Raw meat gets "high", cooked meat goes nasty and gooey, so in the absence of refrigeration it must be dried, smoked, salted or pickled. Your true oldfashioned mincemeat is minced meat preserved with vinegar and sugar, then seasoned with spices and cooked dried fruit (which helps keep it palatable for a while if the pickling turns out to have been inadequate...).

        1. re: Will Owen

          My father used to reminisce about mince meat pies made from venison.

          Can't say I have any appetite for it with or without meat! Too bloody sweet and rich!

          1. re: Will Owen

            but for the average person, mincemeat doesn't have minced meat, and hasn't for generations. (always interesting to know the origins, but it morphed away from that a long time ago)

            I think everyone understands that we're talking about the mixture of dried fruits and sugar...

            1. re: sunshine842

              Btw, the Nonesuch boxes of dehydrated mincemeat still contain beef, though not as much as mincemeat originally had (the beef is a condiment rather than the principal ingredient). It's a great old-fashioned product, homely and unpromising as it may appear.

              1. re: Karl S

                Nonesuch is outstanding. That's what I use most frequently in my pies at Christmas, although I do sometimes make a vegetarian version from scratch. As much as I hate to admit this, Nonesuch tastes better to me. The beef adds a richness that I just can't get with the butter in my recipe.

              2. re: sunshine842

                Although the British mince pie (that we have at Christmas) still contains meat in the form of suet.

                1. re: Harters

                  And mincemeat without suet is a sad thing. It's the suet the gives it the characteristic mouthfeel - served warm, it feels unctuous; cold, it's unappetizingly waxy (like...tallow...).

                  1. re: Karl S

                    Do you think there's much of a market for mincemeat candles? :)

                    1. re: paulj

                      Sugar would be a very bad idea in a tallow candle....

                      1. re: Karl S

                        but, combined with the booze that most folks put in mincemeat, could make for an exciting time!

          2. re: MMRuth

            You and I share a similar approach overall, though mine is light on booze:


          3. 100g salted butter, melted
            250g sultanas
            100g dried apricots
            1 medium apple, such as Gala or Fuji, peeled and grated
            175g brown sugar
            50g chopped toasted almonds (toast in a dry pan under constant supervision)
            1/2 tsp ground allspice
            1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
            1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
            2 tbsp brandy
            2 tbsp golden rum
            Zest and juice of 1 orange
            Zest and juice of 1 lemon

            Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and leave covered, at room temperature, overnight. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks before use. This makes enough for one large two-crust pie, two tarts or about six of those old-fashioned pattypan tins.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Selkie

              Thank you! I notice that you do not use suet. If you did, where would it fit into the scheme of things?

              1. re: roxlet

                It would swap in for the salted butter. Grate clean, hardened rendered suet, melt it down, and stir it in. When you chill the mixture, as you must to prevent icky rancid suet taste, you'll get truly disturbing white flecks throughout, but they go away when you bake. If you don't like the flavor of animal fat and just want the rich mouthfeel it provides, up the cinnamon a little bit and use fresh nutmeg (actually, do that anyway!)

                1. re: roxlet

                  There was a mince meat recipe with suet in one of the London newspapers a couple of weeks ago. It was either the Times or the Guardian. If I recall it was pretty similar to Selkie's suggestion but it might be interesting just to search those sites and see what you come up with. The UK is the home of mince meat after all.

                  I make little round ones with puff pastry. Just put a blob of mincemeat in the middle of a square or circle, pinch it together underneath, slice 3 little slits on top, glaze and sprinkle with sparkly sugar (turbinado if I've got it). It always surprises me how they come out of the oven looking like little golden sparkly balls.

                2. re: Selkie

                  Do you blind bake the crust first, before filling it? How long to bake the filled pie? I told my mom I'd make a mincemeat pie for she and my dad for Christmas this year and have just started looking for recipes/guidance.

                  1. re: farmersdaughter

                    Nope, just follow the standard instructions in your crust recipe (or borrow from, say, an apple pie recipe) for a two-crust fruit pie. :)

                    1. re: Selkie

                      My mother makes mincemeat pies for Thanksgiving every year, and she does them with a lattice crust, which I think suits this filling well. The one she makes is similar to yours, I think, basically dried fruits, apple, sugar, spices. She mixes it, then grinds it with a meat grinder (old-fashioned clamp-on-counter type). She does tell me that it's important to make it at least a few days ahead of pie-making so the flavors can meld and mellow, or it can be a bit harsh.

                3. I wonder if your friend wants a real mincemeat pie or what most of us make which is mock? Real mincemeat is made with venison, I believe. I have a fabulous recipe for a mock mince pie. I'll see if I can dig it out and post it. Cheers!

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Procrastibaker

                    It was originally pork or beef, or both, since venison was not something available to those who lived on the land, but only to those who owned it, if you get my drift. My parents encountered venison mincemeat in Maine, in the early '40s, and thought it odd enough to comment on years later.

                    My grandma's mincemeat, which I dearly loved, was Nonesuch, plus a good bit of chopped beef and some extra tart apple, plus ample lashings of whiskey.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      And it probably was Nonesuch in the box (dehydrated) rather than jarred. I use the box.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        How funny. Yes, the venison mincemeat I'm familiar with was served in Maine as well (much to the chagrin of my friend's then fiance who was craving MINCE pie!). Thanks for pointing out the difference. In any event, here is the mince pie recipe I use. It is fabulous (I even forgot the butter in the filling one year and it still got raves). I just process the orange and the apple in the food processor.

                        Mince Pie

                        1 1/2 cup seedless or seeded raisins
                        1/3 cup dry sherry or brandy or rum
                        3 cups finely chopped apple
                        1/2 medium orange ground with peel
                        1/4 cup lemon juice
                        1 1/4 cup sugar
                        1/2 tsp salt
                        1 tsp cinnamon
                        1/2 tsp mace
                        1/4 tsp cloves
                        1/4 tsp ginger
                        Pastry for two double crust 8-inch pies or one double-crust 10-inch pie
                        1/2 cuup melter butter

                        Put raisins in mixing bowl and add sherry, or brandy or rum, letting fruit soak up liquor while you prep the crust and peel apples. Add all the ingredients for the filling. If using two pie pans, line with pastry, trim and moisten edges. Divide filling into pans and pour half melted butter into each. Top with pastry, trim, crimp edges, and cut slits in top of crust. If using one large pie pan, it should be about two inches deep. Bake at 450 degrees 15 mins. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 8 inch pies about 25 mins longer, 10 inch pies about 35 mins longer.

                        1. re: Procrastibaker

                          My father who loved mincemeat made from venison was also from Maine!

                        2. re: Karl S

                          "And it probably was Nonesuch in the box (dehydrated) rather than jarred." Nope, jar. This was back in the '50s, and I think the wet kind was all they had then. It was certainly all I ever saw.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Well, the reverse was true in our family at that time, according to my mother.

                    2. is he looking for mince pies or minced meat pies which are not the same thing. Mince pies are the sweet dried fruits type which we Brits have at Christmas and minced meat (known as mince sorry for the confusion) is ground beef or other meats.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: smartie

                        I think he is looking for what would be the Christmas dessert. He mentioned making it for Christmas.

                      2. Nobody makes a big mincemeat pie in the UK (we call them mince pies) - they HAVE to be the small, individual ones. I will be making my first batch this week for our Xmas street party/gathering.

                        It's definitely worth the effort to make your own mincemeat, and it keeps well. (I just discovered a couple of jars from last year when tidying up my pantry and they're fine!) This is the recipe I use:


                        I like Nigella's recipe for pastry - it must be very short, which is why vegetable shortening or lard must be used, imho.


                        33 Replies
                        1. re: greedygirl

                          I make turnovers in puff pastry instead of a big pie; that way, my elderly parents have individual servings in the freezer and don't feel rushed to finish a whole pie in a few days.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Great idea! I think I will do the same for my parents. Do you just freeze the extras before doing any baking?

                            1. re: farmersdaughter

                              Well, I bake them all and then freeze them, wrapped in foil and then Glad freezer wrap (always double wrap baked goods like this) then in a bag. I use Sugar in the Raw (rough crystals) to dust the egg-washed turnovers.

                              I also make my turnovers as rectangles, not triangles; triangles require more fussing (you need to cut an exact square) than it is worth.

                          2. re: greedygirl

                            Is this from Nigella's Christmas book? I am anxious to get it when I return to NY. I looked at the recipe GG, and it seems like what is being described is kind of a mush, for lack of a better term. I always thought of mince meat as kind of chunky. I like the idea of the individual tarts.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              It's from her Domestic Godess book. It's not mushy, really, as the bits of apple stay whole, ditto the raisins.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                That's the one book of Nigella's I have. I guess I never really noticed it before since it's not something I usually make. I'll look at it when I get home.

                            2. re: greedygirl

                              We usually make mincemeat tarts these days - and just put a cutout piece of crust on top - star/moon/whatever. And then serve with hard sauce.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                You see, for me, the ratio of mincemeat to pastry is all wrong in a large pie/tart. The small ones are perfect with a cup of tea or a glass of sherry. :-)

                                What's hard sauce?

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  Oh - by tart, I mean these very little tarts - made in a pan with nine "indentations" for tarts. They are maybe 2.5 - 3 inches in diameter.

                                  Hard Sauce - reminds me that I promised to post a recipe - it's basically butter, confectioner's/icing sugar (not sure what you call it - the powdery stuff) and some kind of alcohol. I actually thought that it was served with Christmas/Plum pudding.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    We call that brandy/rum/whisky (delete as appropriate) butter.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      You're right - it is served with Christmas pudding.

                                    2. re: greedygirl

                                      BTW - I was just at the "new" Le Caprice here in NYC for lunch, and at the end of the meal they gave us tiny mince tarts that had both a bottom and a top crust. They were about two bites, no more. I'm thinking about what kind of pan I might use to replicate them.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        Yes tricky b/c the old-fashioned small tart pans seem to have been replaced with mini-muffin pans, which have straight sides and are deep. I don't think the pastry goes in as smoothly and as greedy girl mentions, the ratio of pastry to filling makes it or breaks it. Having, for eons, kept my eyes open for something resembling the old ones, I finally found a tray (1 only) at a discount store this fall. They have sloping sides, and are shallow enough, but would be closer to 3-4 bites. It'll take me forever though since I only have the one tray :-(

                                        Until you find some, maybe you could try the "turnover" idea mentioned upthread? You could control the size that way. Or I posted (above) making little "balls" which came out nicely. (A direct steal from Fergus Henderson's Eccles cakes served with his cheese course except they came out round instead of flat - likely b/c they were more stuffed w/ mincemeat.) I figured anything would be better than muffin tins - or mini-muffins. Good luck!

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Those are exactly what I make (Mr GG manages them in one bite!). I use a twelve-hole bun tin. Like this:


                                          Sometimes I make a star for a lid, rather than a top crust.

                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                            How long do you have to cook the bite-size mince pies, and at what temperature? All the recipes I have found are for a full pie, and that's not what I want. I want the baby mince pies that we can munch for tea!

                                            1. re: cjcrowther

                                              Not long - probably about 15 minutes or so but I'd start checking after 10. Also, don't overfill them with mincemeat or it will bubble out of the edges. You only need a (scant) teaspoon.

                                              1. re: cjcrowther

                                                I cook mine at 200C (fan assist oven) - as greedygirl indicates 15 minutes is usually fine but check after 10 - you do not want burnt pastry.

                                                It is, indeed, a fine line between overstuffing (and risking the bubbling over and burnt sugar) and not having enough filling. In sync with my persona, I go for overstuffing. Always :-0

                                              2. re: greedygirl

                                                a few years ago, there was a group effort to make mince pies for a school function (we collectively made *hundreds* of pies) -- we had a few bun tins that had been brought from England for the event, but we found that a standard muffin pan is almost exactly the same size.

                                                We used a star cut out of the pastry for our top crust, too.

                                                (wish I could remember what brand of filling we used - it was delicious)

                                        2. re: greedygirl


                                          I always use a Joclyn Dimbleby recipe for my mince pies. Standard sweet shortcrust pastry but including the zest of an orange (for 24 pies) and the orange juice for liquid.

                                          These days, I buy the mincemeat (whatever premium stuff the supermarket has) and add some booze (usually sweet sherry) a couple of weeks before I need it. Which reminds me........

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            I like my pastry without sugar as the mincemeat is so sweet anyway. I use Nigella's recipe these days which also has orange juice as the liquid. Makes it very easy to work with. My pastry is resting in the fridge as I type!

                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                              We're designating a day or so next week to Xmas prep. MInce pies, chestnut stuffing, bread sauce, a couple of soups all destined for the freezer. I may do Delia's country terrine which freezes quite well in slices. And a couple of as yet undetermined casseroles - one of which will be using the game mix I got from Bakewell farmer's market on Saturday (and which I rather fancy then becoming a pie). And then herself has declared that it will also be the start of her new retirement hobby - cake baking.

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                I know this is off-topic, but could you please explain the history/use/appeal of bread sauce? I have seen recipes for it and to the uninitiated it seems, well, kind of unpleasant. But I am sure I'm wrong! What does one serve it with? Poultry? Thanks!

                                                1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                  yes it's great for turkey or chicken - bread sauce that is.

                                                  1. re: Procrastibaker

                                                    I've also seen lots of recipes for it, and agree that it does "sound" sort of foul. (Or fowl?) I roasted a partridge recently, and opted for a celery sauce in lieu of a bread sauce but, given my interest in English cooking, I'm going to have to try a bread sauce, and will report back.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      I must admit I've never had bread sauce either - it's not traditional in my family, and I am pretty averse to it as well. Lots of my friends love it though, and it's usually served as part of Christmas dinner.

                                                    2. re: Procrastibaker


                                                      Apologies for not responding sooner - the thread had sort of dropped off my radar.

                                                      I can't find anything specific about the history of bread sauce which suggests it must go back a long way into history. Probably originally a cheap and filling addition to the meal - with the bread acting as a thickening agent for what is otherwise basically flavoured milk. I like it for its relative blandness which contrasts well with the richness of the traditional British Christmas lunch. If I had to guess, I'd reckon the origins will be as a sauce for game which got adopted for Christmas when turkey started to become popular in ther late 19th century.

                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                        I found a little bit about it in Kate Colquhoun's "Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking", in the chapter entitled Medieval Britain.

                                                        "Bread-based sauces called 'camelyn' or 'gamelyne' could be spiced up with raisins, pine nuts, ginger, cloves or cinnamon, and were served with most birds, including egret, crane, bittern and plover, but chawdron - a sauce of blood and livers - was the perfect companion for a roast swan."

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          Google find a recipe for camelyn sauce:

                                                          ""Sauce camelyn for qualys & othir maner of foules and fysch.
                                                          Take white bred and draw hit in the manner of a sauce gynger, with venyger; & put therto poudyr of canell, a grete dele, & poudyr of gynger & poudyr lumbard. & draw hit ayen, & yf thu wilt, draw a lytyll mustard therewith, & sesyn hit up with sygure that hit be doucete. Salt hit & colour hit with safron."

                                                          Much spicier than modern bread sauce which is now just cloves.

                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                            Seems in keeping with the taste/fashion for highly spiced savory dishes up through the 18th century. Do you know what "lumbard" is/refers to?

                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                Cool resource. Unfortunately, it doesn't answer the question of what spices Lombard powder is actually comprised of. Have seen contemporary references that suggest it is mustard, but that doesn't seem so likely. No big deal.

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  I'm not sure of origin. On the one hand, in my quote above, there's mention of lumbard and mustard - suggesting that they're not the same. Yet I also see an internet reference to "Lumbard Mustard" (dated 1390)

                                                                  I wonder if it's an early spelling of the Italian region of Lombardy

                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                    Lumbard and Lombard would be cognates; orthography is not something that was reliable before dictionaries and schooling became nearly universal.