Mincemeat - © Kate Whitaker

Mincemeat Pie Tips: Not What You’re Expecting…

It’s an old British tradition and one some of us can’t do Christmas / New Years without. On the other hand there are folks that class Mincemeat Pie with ‘doorstop’ fruitcakes. But for those who love it, making Mincemeat right is considered an art…

Micemeat Tarts - © domesticgothess.com

I’ve been struck, in recent years, by how difficult it has become to find Mincemeat pies or tarts. Even at boutique bakeries and specialty shops. I’ve tried supermarket mincemeat pies, but – like every mass-market product – the flavour has been dumbed-down so as not to risk offending anyone. So… I’ll probably have to make my own this year. For the first time in a long time.

Why the long face?

(As the bartender said to the horse who came in and ordered a triple Bourbon…)

Anyway… I used to make my own Mincemeat. When I was younger so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But now those days are gone, I’m not so self assured. Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors…

My Number One Mincemeat Tip:

Don’t try to make your own. It’s a long, involved process that involves archaic ingredients like fresh suet soaking dried frults overnight, and spice sleight-of-hand to get the flavour just right. The stuff you can get at the supermarket in a jar is a great place to start, making a Mincemeat pie or tarts that are all your own. And will impress your Holiday diners just like you HAD made it from scratch.

Don’t take my word for it. I rationalized using jarred Mincemeat after reading that several big-time chefs no longer make their own. But they still add their own touches!

Spicy touches

Mincemeat traditionally contains strong doses of cinnamon, cloves, ginger nutmeg and allspice. If you prefer more of any of those, feel free to add them to your store-bought mix. Mincemeat is, after all, a primordial cottage cookery concept that has as many versions as there are authentic, scratch makers.

The other flavour dimension is ‘zesty’. That takes in raisins, currents and oranges. The go-recipe (i.e.- most of the ones I’ve seen) calls for Orange Zest. And lots of it. It’s easy for the zip of the zest to get lost among the big sweet and spicy flavours. So I like to taste my augmented mincemeat separately for ‘sour’. I usually find I need to add some more zest. Or a squeeze or two of orange juice.

The traditional, stodgy, heavy flavour of the Mincemeat comes alive with a little enhancement!

The pastry

I always make my shortest short crust pastry for a Mincemeat pie. And I like to roll it out a little thicker than usual. No top crust: Instead get out the Christmas Cookie cutters and make shapes you can arrange artistically on top of the filling.

I like to do the trad thing as a finish: A nice coat of egg wash on the top decorations makes this pie look totally authentic!

Now… Go forth and fake it!

No, wait… ‘Go forth, and make it quick, easy and all your own!’

~ Maggie J.