Tuesday, October 25, 2011

National Mincemeat Day

By Diane Forrest,

Every year when the holidays are near I think about mincemeat pie. I don't know why, I guess it’s from reading all those Charles Dickens stories.  While I have never had mincemeat pie, my neighbor, who was from England, used to eat it a lot growin up.  One would think that it being a pie would be a dessert, but in fact it is a main course. the following is a recipe from the 16th century:

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. (sic)

The tradition of mincemeat pie started in the 11th century.  The Christmas pie came about at the time when the Crusaders were returning from the Holy Land. They brought home a variety of oriental spices. It was important to add three spices (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) for the three gifts given to the Christ child by the Magi. In honor of the birth of the Savior, the mince pie was originally made in an oblong casings (coffin or cradle shaped), with a place for the Christ Child to be placed on top. The baby was removed by the children and the manger (pie) was eaten in celebration. These pies were not very large, and it was thought lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas (ending with Epiphany, the 6th of January).

Today, you can find mincemeat in jars, but reports are not as favorable as homemade mincemeat.  Below is a recipe that is easy and delicious.  So today, on National Mincemeat Day, why not try a practice run and serve this at your holiday gathering.

Mincemeat Pie

  • 1 1/2 cups diced cooked beef
  • 4 cups chopped apples
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle juice
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 large orange, peeled, sectioned, and cut into bite-size
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup sorghum or molasses
  • 1 cup beef broth

  1. Combine the cooked beef, apples, raisins, sweet pickle vinegar, pineapple, orange, salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, sorghum and 1 cup beef broth.
  2. Store in the refrigerator or freeze until ready to use.
  3. Pour in unbaked pie crusts and  Bake at 350 for 45 mins to an hour. 
  4. Makes 2 pies.

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