I finally got round to making my mincemeat, it should taste great with four to five weeks maturing time, but it lasts so well due to the alcohol content you can make it much further ahead if you like (or are more organised than me). But to me it wouldn’t feel right. I like to do it when it is legitimately okay to start feeling a bit festive. (I’ve already had my first helping of mulled wine, yum).
The recipe I use is adapted from a Mary Berry recipe and is suitable for vegetarians. Mary is a girl after my own heart; I love the taste of the mincemeat with butter. You could make it vegan by swapping the butter for a soy-based spread, or if you prefer suet use the vegetarian variety. I omit the nuts as close relatives and friends have allergies, but you could easily add 50-100g chopped nuts of your choice.
I have a slight obsession with ginger, particularly of the preserved variety, and sticky toffee pudding, so in my recipe I ditch the nuts and cranberries and use preserved ginger and dried dates plus some extra currants to make up the measurements. It is a divine combination, particularly with the addition of orange flavours from the zest, juice and Cointreau!
If you’re an apple lover, you could use Calvados as your spirit, or if pears are more your thing you could add diced pear instead of apple. You could also replace any of the dried fruits with your favourite e.g. figs, apricots, prunes. The options are endless! It’s such a versatile recipe and has the added bonus of being super easy to make.
100g dried dates
100g mixed peel
125g unsalted butter, cubed or grated (best to chill it down so you can cut it)
225g light Muscavado sugar (I used Billington’s)
1 small apple, finely diced
2 balls of preserved ginger, finely diced, plus a generous pouring of the syrup
1 lemon (unwaxed) – zest and juice
1 large orange (unwaxed – I used a Navel orange) – zest and juice of half
1 teaspoon (approx.) Nutmeg syrup (if you can get it – I used Morné Délice)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
200ml spirit of your choice, I use a combination of Cognac and Cointreau
1) Sterilise your jars
2) Put all the ingredients, apart from the alcohol, into a large heavy bottomed pan
3) Simmer for roughly 10 minutes
4) Set aside to cool completely – you should also cool your sterilised jars too. I dry the lids first, then the jars and put the lids on as quickly as possible. If you put hot into cold (or vice versa) the jars could crack, so it’s important to do this!
5) Once the mincemeat mixture is cool, stir through your alcohol.
6) You can now transfer into your sterilised jars and store in your cupboard until you’re ready to make your mince pies!
Making the mince pies
I normally make mine on Christmas Eve to share with friends; the rest get eaten on Christmas and Boxing Day!
It really is so easy – you’ll never look back – just make a batch of short crust pastry (this is what I prefer, but you could make sweet short crust or use shop bought). I like Nigel Slater’s foolproof method, which incidentally is enshrined in this ode to the beauty of mince pies; this is enough to make 18 pies. My mincemeat recipe above makes four lots of 18 (roughly!).
Happy cooking and eating!