By Cat, Aug 2007 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons: “Homemade mincemeat from a market in Hallowell, Maine, USA. Contains Apples, Beef, Sugar, Raisins, Suet, Molasses, Vinegar and Spices“)
Mincemeat is a very old recipe, traditionally made with wild game and fruit (Pemmican is a close cousin to Mincemeat).
Traditionally, these high energy foods, rich in fat, protein and antioxidants, have been made by native or indigenous peoples for centuries. They were made during the rich warm summer months when wild game and fruits/berries were plentiful; then stored to last through the harsh winter months. But modern mincemeat is typically made without the meat and suet of the earlier versions, and is used as a sweet treat during the holiday season.
Although this is a “meatless” recipe, it does use suet, a special fat from pigs from which lard is rendered. These days, pigs are pretty lean, making suet harder and harder to come by. You can use lard, but it doesn’t work as well as suet. Beef or venison suet can also be used. Ask your butcher to save scraps of suet until there is enough for this recipe, and then ask him to grind it for you (much easier than chopping it with a knife at home). It may have a little bit of meat attached to the fat, but that’s OK.
For the sweetener, I prefer to use Rapadura sugar to light brown sugar, because Rapadura retains all the enzymes and minerals of the cane sugar. Another alternative is Grade B maple syrup.
I’ve written this recipe as a dessert pie, but the filling can also be used in cookies. While you can make this as one large pie,I much prefer individual pocket tarts. Serve with rich vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or whipped cream beaten with some cream cheese. A hard sauce or brandy sauce are also nice with this pie. Great during the holiday season.
This makes 8 – 10 individual pocket tarts. I place extra baked tarts on a washed meat tray, slide into a sealable bag, and freeze for later use.
The Yogurt pie crust may sound a bit weird, but the flavor is a perfect balance with the Mincemeat filling. This pie crust is an example of using soaked or sprouted grains, which increases the bioavailability of the grain’s nutrients. Refer to my article on Soaking or Sprouting Grains for more information. Alternately, you can use a regular pie or tart crust recipe.
Recipe adapted from Olde Time Cooking and Nostalgia. (1)
Ingredients & Equipment
- 1 recipe Yogurt Pie Crust-I or other Pie/Tart Crust/Pastry recipe
- melted butter
- unbleached white flour (to dust pastry cloth for rolling out dough)
- Mincemeat filling:
- 1 – 2 lemons (for zest and juice)
- ½ lb. ground or chopped suet
- ¾ lb. apples (peeled, cored, chopped)
- ½ lb. golden raisins
- ½ lb. dried currants
- ¼ cup candied orange peel
- ¼ cup candied citron
- ¾ cup Rapadura sugar (dried cane juice), or light brown sugar, or ½ sugar plus 3 – 4 Tbsp Grade B maple syrup
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground mace
- ½ cup brandy or rum
- 1 – 2 Tbsp unbleached white flour, as needed
- cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan
- rolling pin
- pastry cloth and rolling pin sock
Preparation of Mincemeat Filling
- Grate rind from one lemon. Squeeze juice from the lemon and set aside.
- Place suet and fruit in a very large bowl. Whisk sugar and spices together in a bowl and sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Add brandy/rum, and maple syrup (if using). Mix with your hands until well mixed.
- Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for 2 -3 days.
- Start Yogurt Pie Crust dough 1 day before you want to bake the pies/tarts, to allow time for the pre-soak. If not making a presoak recipe, prepare the dough the same day you want to bake the pies/tarts.
- Divide dough into 8 to 10 1-inch balls, and roll each in flour. Roll each into rounds. [NOTE: You can also divide into two parts, one larger than the other, to make a 2-crust 10” pie, but I think they are much better as individual tarts. You can also use traditional pie crust, but the yogurt dough is a nice balance for the strong flavors of the mince meat.
Assembly of Individual Pies/Tarts
- Place a scoop of mince filling on each round of dough. You will have some filling left over, which can be put into a sterilized jar, sealed, and stored for future use.
- Using your finger, run a bit of cold water around the edges of the dough.
- Individual Pies: Fold edges up to form a 3- or 4- sided pastry, almost meeting at a point in the center (leave a hole at center for air to escape). Seal edges by pinching them together. The edges will make a 3- or 4-pointed star pattern.
- Rustic tarts: see Plum & Berry Mini Rustic Tarts for an example of the method.
- Whole pie: Use a 2-crut pie recipe; roll out bottom crust, and arrange in pie pan, letting the round fall over the sides of the pan. Trim and moisten edges. Roll out top crust and arrange over top, pressing the edges agains the moist edges of the bottom crust. Flute. Make cuts through the top crust so steam can escape while baking. I like to use an attractive pattern for a holiday presentation. Brush with melted butter.
- Filled cookies: See Filled Cookie recipe.
Bake & Serve:
- Individual pies/tarts: Place on well-greased cookie sheets/jelly-roll pans, and brush with melted butter.
- Bake tarts at 350°F for about 30 – 40 minutes or until golden.
- Bake 2-crust whole pie at 425°F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for another 40 minutes.
- All versions: Remove from oven and cool on a rack for a few minutes before serving. I like them best a little warmer than room temperature.
- You can refrigerate or freeze them for future use. To reheat, thaw first (if frozen), place on a cookie sheet and warm in a 325°F oven.