I have a jar of mincemeat on the shelf – I bought it when it was marked down considerably last winter; if you’ve bought it recently you know it isn’t just expensive, it’s damn expensive. I’ll probably make cookies from it, as they seem to be more acceptable than the pie. Not everyone likes mincemeat. We’ll get that out of the way now. I’m not sure why it’s considered a traditional dessert at Thanksgiving when hardly anyone eats it. It’s probably because it’s full of candied fruit (always suspect in the eyes of kids) including those weird green bits which NOBODY likes, and is gummy and sticky and usually too sweet even for kids, who won’t eat it anyway because of those weird green bits. My mother is the only person I ever knew who actually LIKED those.
If you’re one of the mincemeat fanciers, or you just like to mess about in the kitchen, it’s easy and rather fun to make your own. It wasn’t so long ago that mincemeat actually contained meat, as this recipe does; if you don’t tell anyone, they won’t know.
Note: You can substitute a mixture of dried fruit for the candied fruit, like chopped dried persimmons, mangoes, dates, currants, dried cherries, pineapple, etc. If the dried fruit isn’t unsulphured, rinse the hell out of it with boiling water. Soaking it overnight in some booze is not a bad idea.
Another note: when I say “booze,” I mean the straight stuff – brandy, rum, bourbon, whiskey, etc. Don’t use really expensive alcohol since it will be adulterated considerably, but don’t get the crap in plastic bottles, either. I do NOT mean pre-mixed cocktails or those weird sweet drinks in a bottle like Kahlua Mudslide, Skinny Girl Margaritas, Pennsylvania Dutch Eggnog, etc. Be a grownup.
- 2-3 pounds stewing meat – beef, pork, or venison
- 6 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped small
- 1/2 pound suet
- 2 cups golden raisins
- 2 pounds mixed candied fruit for fruitcake (your choice; leave out the weird green bits if you hate them)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup dark corn syrup
- 2 cups apple juice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 teaspoons mixed spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice)
You need to pot roast the meat, so cover it with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until it is super tender – about 2 or 3 hours, possibly longer – then shred it. Don’t drain off the liquid. Chop up the suet and toss that in with the meat, plus all the other ingredients. Pour in a shitton of booze (your choice) and simmer the mincemeat all day. I’ll tell you what: mincemeat sucks up booze like nobody’s business.
You can pretty much keep simmering this on the stove for days, just making sure it doesn’t burn and add more juice or booze as needed. Add more sugar or spices if you think it needs it. When you’re sick of messing about with it and it tastes good, either make it into pies/ cookies/ whatever, or freeze it in small containers. It keeps forever.