In the United Kingdom, mincemeat pie still rules as a Christmas dessert
Holiday pies such as pumpkin or pecan are very popular in America. But in the United Kingdom, mincemeat rules.
Historically, mincemeat was a way to preserve the harvest by mixing apples, dried fruits, spices, lean meats such as beef or venison, and brandy, rum or Madeira. It was canned in late summer or early autumn and left to age and mellow until winter, when it would be opened and enjoyed, especially as the filling for Christmas pies.
Modern mincemeat usually has no meat, although traditionalists will add suet to the recipe.
“By the Victorian era, the meat of mincemeat began to be dropped from the dishes, making them more akin to the fruity pies we’re familiar with,” according to the Smithsonian. “The treats also shrank in size, becoming more like individual snacks than extravagant dishes.”
In the United Kingdom, many millions of dollars worth of mincemeat pie are sold in the Christmas season, according to reports.
This mock mincemeat recipe doesn’t require aging and can be used immediately.
Mock Mincemeat Pie
2 rolled out basic pie doughs (your favorite recipe or pre-made version)
½ cup dark raisins or dried currants
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup dried cranberries
4 large tart apples, cored and peeled, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon each orange and lemon zest
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
¼ teaspoon each ground allspice, clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg
¼ cup dark rum, brandy or Madeira
Transfer 1 of the 2 pie dough rounds to a 9-inch pie pan. Set aside in a cool place along with second round.
In a food processor, combine dried fruits and pulse to chop and combine. Add apples and pulse to chop into small pieces. Add zests.
Scrape mixture into a mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to dough-lined pie pan. Place second round on top and crimp edges to seal. Cut 5 or 6 slits in top crust to allow steam to escape.
Refrigerate the pie for 20-30 minutes or until dough is firm. Meanwhile, place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 F.
Bake until golden and filling is thick and bubbling, 50-60 minutes. Let cool completely to set. Serve at room temperature or reheat just before serving.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.