We’re almost at the end of October and Christmas is creeping up on all of us at an alarming rate. I made a batch of mincemeat this week to get myself ahead of the game on my holiday preparations. Forget the store-bought jars of mincemeat, this is the real thing.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I made my first batch of mincemeat. The recipe I use doesn’t contain meat but it does contain suet. Suet is the fat found around the kidneys and loins of cows and sheep. I buy it at my favourite butcher shop where it’s sold in bags and looks like ground almonds. There is no perfect substitute for suet so I’m not even going to try and recommend using something else for this traditional Christmas dessert.
The best part about making mincemeat now is getting containers of it into your freezer for later. I pack 1-litre (4 cup) containers full of mincemeat and it’s the perfect amount for making a pie. In The Kitchen Table Cookbook I’ve included a variation on apple strudel that includes a layer of mincemeat over the apples – it’s SO GOOD!
Now here’s my word of advice – You may think that you don’t like mincemeat pies*, tarts, strudel… I felt the same way before I started making my own. Try it, you’ll like it!
Makes 10 cups (2.5 L)
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups raisins
2 cups currants
1 ½ cups slivered almonds
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 ¾ cup brown sugar
1 cup mixed citrus peel (finely chopped if it isn’t already that way when you buy it)
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
1 tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp mace
1/8 tsp ground ginger
¾ cup suet
4 Tbsp dark rum (or spiced rum is good, too)
½ cup Calvados (I’ve also used ice wine brandy)
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Fill clean containers with tops and freeze until needed, up to 6 months.
*To make a mincemeat pie, preheat the oven to 400 F. Fill a pie crust with 4 cups of mincemeat. Top the pie with a lattice crust (basket weave). Crimp the edges and brush the top crust with an egg wash. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden and the mixture is bubbling. Let the pie cool and serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or a custard sauce.