I really had no clue what a mincemeat pie was prior to deciding I wanted to make it. I saw the work “meat” and thought it would be a perfect addition to my gluttony dinner. It was only once I had decided to make the dish that I started looking at the list of ingredients. Traditionally, mincemeat pie was a British holiday classic made with suet (which I’ve come to learn is mutton fat). Doesn’t sound like the most pleasant of all ingredients, does it? Screw the theme–I’m not eating beef-fat pie. Then, I learned that a lot of mincemeat pies nowadays call for canned “mincemeat”…kinda like a lot of pumpkin pies call for canned “pumpkin pie mix.” This would be a REALLY cheap sell-out way of going about the baking process; however, not only could I never quite figure out what goes into this canned mincemeat (I was hoping NOT suet), but in America at least it’s only sold by speciality shops around Christmas. Einen kleinen problemo.
Finally, I found a set of recipes (one from the LA Times, one from Nigella Lawson, a few from some more obscure British chefs…) that had a running theme. Instead of using meat, these mincemeat pies all used different kinds of dried and fresh fruits. Despite not having beef in them, and therefore technically being inappropriate for my dinner-party theme, these pies looked much more appetizing.
A few notes before proceeding to the recipe:
- I did not make my own pie crusts. I really should start doing this, but I’m honestly petrified of making any kind of “starch” from scratch. My two attempts to make pasta have been beyond disastrous, and I’ve never attempted to make any other kind of dough. Gnocchi just seems messy, and easy to mess up. I have nightmares about yeast-rising catastrophes. I know as a foodie, and lover of cooking, I need to get over this. But I’m not quite there yet. So, for this dish, I used Pillsbury pie crusts.
- The liquid for the pie filling was restricted to lemon juice and bourbon. I could probably write a blog-post on my thoughts of various hard liquors, but let’s just say I’ve never been a huge fan of bourbon–but that opinion was based on only having had Jim Beam (which I wouldn’t serve to a dog) and Maker’s Mark (which I couldn’t even afford to serve to a dog). After doing minimal Internet searches and talking to my local liquor store owner, I chose two airplane bottles of Bulleit. And I have to say–having taken a TEENY TINY sip while cooking–it’s not that bad. In fact…wouldn’t mind trying it again.
- Having said that…there was too much liquid in the pie. Especially when the apples and grapes cooked…this was a little sloppy. I would recommend either (i) cooking the fruit a little bit prior to baking the whole pie or (ii) using only a dash of bourbon. 3.5 ounces was way too much…though the pie did taste heavenly (which I suppose is what truly counts).
- Two not-so-sweet apples (I used braeburns), chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup not-golden raisins
- One two-handed cup full of walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup seedless grapes, sliced.
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- Allspice, ground
- Lemon zest, and juice from one lemon.
- 2 airplane bottles (approx. 3.5 ounces) Bulleit bourbon
- Pie crust dough (make your own, or go with me and Pillsbury)
- 1 egg, beaten
- Butter (either melted, or in spray form)
- Preheat your oven to 375*F.
- Mix all the fruit and nuts together in a bowl.
- Add the sugar, spices, lemon juice and bourbon to the fruit. Mix well.
- Take a pie-pan and butter it. Place the first piece of pie dough in the pan. The dough should overhang from the edges of the pan.
- Pour the filling into the pan. Make the height as even as possible.
- Place a second piece of pie dough over the filling. Again, the dough should overhang.
- Make slits (decorative or otherwise) on the top of the pie, to help with steam escape. Feel free if you want to trim and tighten the edges of the pie.
- Take the beaten egg and, using a brush (or as I didn’t have one, a paper towel) coat the top of the pie.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the pie is golden on top.
- Serve with your favorite garnish (I used vanilla ice cream).