Making Mincemeat for a Pie Fest
Is anyone else intrigued by the idea of making mince pies with real meat, the way it used to be back in the 17th century?
The filling contained real meat – quite a lot of it. Sadly, Pepys did not leave us a recipe though we can get a good idea from the Receipt Book written by an Oxfordshire aristocrat in 1609. Elinor Fettiplace’s filling was made of equal parts of minced cooked mutton, beef suet, currants and raisins with ginger, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange rind, salt and a tiny quantity of sugar.
This is from an Independent article written by Christopher Hirst about the history of the mince pie which you can read here if you’re so inclined, it’s a must for any mince pie lover/obsessive/the curious. I’d just like to be called Elinor Fettiplace. It’s interesting that it says a tiny quantity of sugar – most modern recipes call for lots of dark brown muscavado but I think the fruit is so sweet anyway that you don’t need as much.
Anyway, this year I’m going to attempt a few meat and mincemeat pies and see how they go down. I can see why mutton might be the meat of choice – it’s strong flavour would work well with the spices and the rich fruit. Not sure I can get mutton, I asked at the butcher once and they said I could have a whole carcass as there wasn’t much demand for it these days. Hmm, that’s a lot of meat. Probably better to stick to lamb, the Moroccans eat it spiced with apricots and prunes, so it’s on the same kind of flavour spectrum.
But first for the fruity bit…which I did last week.