Cooked mixture of dark dried fruits, dark sugar, citrus peel, sweet spices and suet, often with brandy. Used as a pie filling during the Christmas and New Year celebrations, it is generally considered that mincemeat improves with keeping and should always be made at the very least two weeks before use.
Image: Stuart Caie
It is well known that mincemeat formerly contained actual meat, of which the suet is today's remnant. The classic form is found in 'The Compleat Cook' by 'WM', 1658 (below).
Original Receipt in 'The Compleat Cook' by 'WM', 1658 (WM 1658)
To make minced Pies.
Take a large Neats tongue, shread it very well, three pound and a halfe of Suet very well shread, Currans three pound, halfe an ounce of beaten Cloves and Mace, season it with Salt when you think't fit, halfe a preserved Orange, or instead of it Orange Pils, a quarter of a pound of Sugar, and a little Lemon Pill sliced very thin, put all these together very well, put to it two Spoonfull of Verjuyce, and a quarter of a Pint of Sack, &c.
By the time of Moxon 1764, the meat was clearly not considered absolutely necessary. She offers one receipt made with calf's feet and another which is meat-free and more-or-less the modern method...
Original Receipt in 'English Housewifry' by Elizabeth Moxon, 1764 (Moxon 1764)
119. MINC'D PIES another way.
Take a pound of the finest seam tripes you can get, a pound and a half of currans well cleaned, two, three or four apples pared and shred very fine, a little green lemon-peel and mace shred, a large nutmeg, a glass of sack or brandy, (which you please) half a pound of sugar, and a little salt, so mix them well together, and fill your patty-pans, then stick five or six bits of candid lemon or orange in every petty-pan, cover them, and when baked they are fit for use.
Queen Victoria's cook Francatelli has an unusual version...
Original Receipt from 'A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes' by Charles Elmé Francatelli (Francatelli 1846)
No. 100. A Cheap Kind of Mince-meat.
Ingredients, eight ounces of stoned raisins, eight ounces of washed and dried currants, one pound of tripe, one pound of apples, one pound of chopped suet, four ounces of shred candied peel, one pound of moist sugar, one ounce of allspice, the juice and the chopped rind of three lemons, half a gill of rum. First chop the raisins, currants, apples, and the tripe all together, or separately, until well mixed; then place these in a pan, add the remainder of the ingredients, mix them thoroughly until well incorporated with each other; put the mince-meat into a clean dry stone jar, tie some thick paper, or a piece of bladder over the top, and keep it in a cool place till wanted for use.
... and we also have the version Victoria herself was served;
Original Receipt from 'A Shilling Cookery for The People' by Alexis Soyer (Soyer 1845)
Royal Christmas Fare. - The mince-meat as made at Windsor Castle every year, the ingredients being mixed one month before wanted, is as follows: 240 lbs. of raisins, 400 lbs. of currants, 200 lbs. of lump sugar, 3 lbs. of cinnamon, 3 lbs. of nutmeg, 3 lbs. of cloves, 3 lbs. of ground allspice, 2 lbs. of ginger, 300 lbs. of beef, 350 lbs. of suet, 24 bushels of apples, 240 lemons, 30 lbs. of cedret, 72 bottles of brandy, 3 lbs. of mace, 60 lbs. of lemon-peel, and 60 lbs. of orangepeel.
Further receipt at: Mince Pie
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