Right. I’ve had enough of this namby-pamby mincemeat with nothing but dried fruit and sugar! Let’s put some meat in the recipe! No, really, let’s put some meat in the recipe. Originally mincemeat was just that – a well spiced condiment containing, amongst other things, minced meat.
It started off as a savoury dish in the 15th century but as sugar became more widely available, it gradually crept sweetly towards the end of the meal. It was also a good way of preserving meat and although mine has never stayed around long enough to find out, it can certainly be left for a month in a sealed jar and probably longer. You can use lamb or beef – I prefer lamb because it’s lighter – but whichever you choose make sure it’s good quality meat with no sinewy bits and nice and lean.
You mustn’t be afraid of this recipe; many people find mincemeat somewhat too sweet anyway, and whilst this version is pleasantly sweet, it leans towards the spice rather than the sugar. Also, it is virtually impossible to detect the meat so there is no need to be squeamish. A few years ago I took a warm plate of these mince pies into the playground at school and handed them round. They were received with great gladness and only a few stupid people wrinkled their noses when they found out what was in them. Why do people do that? If I’d fed them minced kittens I could understand it… blah blah blah…
1 x large mixing bowl
1 x vegetable peeler
1 x grater
1lb / 480g minced lamb – broken up finely
1lb / 480g dark brown sugar
8oz / 240g apples – peeled cored and chopped
8oz / 240g raisins
8oz / 240g stoned dates – finely chopped
2oz / 60g suet
1 small orange – juice and grated rind
1 lemon – juice and grated rind
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 good slosh of brandy (apple brandy is really nice in this too)
Mix it all up together in a bowl
Spoon into sterilized jars and leave for at least a week or preferably two before using.
You can sterilise jam jars in the microwave. Quarter fill the jam jar with cold water, put the lid on, shake the water around the jar, then remove lid and empty almost all of the water out. Microwave for 1 minute. Everywhere the water has touched will be brought to boiling point and sterilised. Pour out the water, take care as the jar will be hot, and use for jams etc