To Mince Meat for Mincemeat – or Not?

mincemeat recipes

My favourite destination for my mincemeat recipes

To mince meat for mincemeat; or not? Now there’s a loaded question. When I was a little lad and in fact probably not such a little lad it always puzzled me why the fruity, spicy concoction found inside a mince pie was called mincemeat. So I hunted through stacks of my gran’s cookbooks to see if I could find any mincemeat recipes with mince in. You see my idea of mincemeat was the stuff we were served every Monday evening without fail accompanied by boil potatoes, frozen peas and gravy. It wasn’t until relatively recently that someone told me that the original mincemeat recipes were in fact made with real meat. Having done extensive research as a child, and being me of course, I thought it was a wind up, but sure enough it turns out to be true. The original mincemeat recipes for the well known and loved Christmas staple, did indeed include the real McCoy, in the form of either beef or venison. In fact having a look around on the Internet, something sadly lacking in my childhood, I came across this original recipe from the 16th Century which I find quite fascinating.

“Pyes of mutton or beif must be fyne mynced seasoned with pepper and salte and a lytel saffron to colour it / suet or marrow a good quantitie / a lytell vynegre / pruynes / great reasons / and dates / take the fattest of the broath of powdred beefe. And if you will have paest royall / take butter and yolkes of egges so to temper the floure to make the paest.”

It would appear from that then, courtesy of Wikipedia, for their mincemeat recipes they used either beef or mutton along with fruit, albeit mostly different from the fruit we use today. Interesting also to see they used vinegar and pepper; not exactly what we would associate with the good old Marks and Sparks puff pastry mince pie! And even in the interests of history, science and gastronomy I don’t think I’m going to give it a whirl.

However, here is one of the great Victorian mincemeat recipes using real mince. I have adapted it as I always do and my biggest adaptation is to use lamb mince rather than beef. I find it gives it that much extra flavour and of course lamb was made for all the spices we associate with Christmas. Just ask a North African, they’ve been using what I call the sweet spices with goat and mutton for eons.

So this mincemeat recipes ingredients are:

mincemeat recipes

How real mincemeat recipes look

  • 3/4lb Minced Lamb
  • 11/2lb Suet
  • 1lb Brown Sugar
  • 1lb Raisins
  • 1lb Currants
  • 2oz Mixed Peel
  • 4 Large Cooking Apples
  • Juice of 2 Lemons
  • 1/4pnt Brandy
  • 2tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1tsp Allspice
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp Ground Clove
  • 1tsp Salt

I use processed suet, something like Atora, for my mincemeat recipes. So basically all you need to do is peel, core and mince the apple - I use a food processor with an appropriate blade. Then mix all the ingredients together really well. Pack them tightly into a jar and keep for as long as you dare before using! No, in all seriousness, as I don’t want to get sued, you must remember these mincemeat recipes contain real meat and therefore cannot be kept like the all fruit mincemeat for months on end in a half open jar at the back of the cupboard. It does of course want maturing to give it a rounded flavour but what I do, to be on the safe side, is mature it in the fridge. Now that means it takes a little longer to mature, possibly three weeks instead of two, but it does mean it is going to be fit to eat!

So if you make it now, by my calculations it should be ready for the run up to Christmas. You use it just like you would any other mincemeat but do make sure it is cooked well! If you don’t fancy trying these old fashioned mincemeat recipes, and honestly they are mighty fine, then you will find a good old fruit only recipe for mincemeat in the recipe section of the site.

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