Mincemeat is a spiced fruit preserve that does not in fact contain meat, although it may contain animal suet. The name is a throwback to Middle English from when "meat" was a word for all food, or to Victorian and earlier recipes that did combine minced lamb or beef with the spiced, preserved fruits.
Mincemeat Tarts are large (8 inch (20cm) diameter or more) open pastry tarts, sometimes with a lattice pastry top, and occasionally also containing baked or stewed apple. The smaller pastry topped tarts traditionally served at Christmas are known as Mince Pies.
Ingredients for Mincemeat
- 1 lb (500 g) seeded raisins
- 1 lb (500 g) currants
- ½ lb (250 g) finely ground beef suet. Suet is pure beef fat and can be obtained from the butcher at the market. (They will grind it on request.) Vegetarians can substitute a solid vegetable fat such as Pura Vegetable Suet.
- Rind of 2 lemons
- ½ lb (250 g) candied orange peel
- ½ lb (250 g) candied citron
- 12 oz (375 g) sugar
- 2 lbs (1 kg) green apples, peeled
- ½ tsp (3 mL) nutmeg
- ½ tsp (3 mL) cinnamon
- ½ cup (120 mL) brandy or rum
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) salt
Wash currants and dry. Set aside. Put remaining ingredients--citron, orange peel, lemon rind, raisins, apples and suet--through a meat grinder using the course grinder blade. Add currants, brandy, spices and mix together.
Note: Candied orange peel and citron can be found in most markets around Thanksgiving.
Pastry for Tarts
Traditional British Mince Pies are made using a good Shortcrust Pastry, although Wheat Flour would be used in place of the given Potato flour in the recipe linked. Pillsbury Pie Crusts, found in the dairy section of most grocery stores in the USA, work very well.
Let the slices warm slightly to almost room temperature. Unwrap and place on a floured cutting board. For best results, roll the dough slightly thinner. Use a doughnut cutter with the center removed or a 2½ inch round cookie cutter to cut the tart shells Gently press into 1½ inch (4 cm) tart pans. Fill with mincemeat and top with a 1 inch (2.5 cm) round piece of pastry cut with the doughnut hole cutter. For added decoration, cut or press a design into the 1 inch pastry round before placing in the center of the filled tart. For a glazed top, lightly brush the pastry lids with milk, or a mixture of milk and beaten egg.
Bake at 425 °F (220 °C) for approx. 20 mins or until pastry is lightly browned at the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack, and dust with icing sugar. People wanting a more alcoholic kick to their Mince Pie may also want to inject them with a little extra Brandy.