First of all let me apologise for using the C word… but some Christmassy things are better done before December – Mincemeat is one of those in my book. The flavours have more time to develop and the mixture gets stickier the longer you leave it, which makes it all the more tasty.
For the last three years I’ve made mince pies with homemade mincemeat, and it’s all come from one batch! So once you put the effort in, it’s definitely worth it – not least because people are always impressed you’ve made it yourself (even if it’s pretty easy to make – sshh). It’s an ideal weekend job, as you have to leave it overnight, then pop it in the oven for three hours the next day. Be warned – it smells so good cooking in the oven, it might make you feel a bit Christmassy 😉
The recipe I use is Delia’s, but i tweaked it slightly to make it cheaper – instead of buying all the currants, sultanas etc separately, I used a kg bag of mixed fruit and added some extra peel.
Recipe taken from Delia Online
Makes 6 lb (2.75 kg)
1 lb (450 g) Bramley apples, cored and chopped small (no need to peel them)
8 oz (225 g) shredded suet
12 oz (350 g) raisins
8 oz (225 g) sultanas
8 oz (225 g) currants
8 oz (225 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped
12 oz (350 g) soft dark brown sugar
grated zest and juice 2 oranges
grated zest and juice 2 lemons
2 oz (50 g) whole almonds, cut into slivers
4 level teaspoons mixed ground spice
½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 tablespoons brandy
You will also need some preserving jars to store the mincemeat.
Put all the ingredients (except for the brandy) in a large ovenproof mixing bowl, then stir and mix them together thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for at least 12 hours, so the flavours can mingle and develop.
The next day: Pre-heat the oven to 225°F /110°C.
Cover the bowl loosely with foil and put in the oven. When three hours is up, remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the amount of fat in the bowl, this is how it should look.
As the mixture cools down, give it a stir it from time to time – the fat will thicken and coat all the other ingredients.
When the mincemeat is completely cold, stir well again and add the brandy. Pack in sterilised jars.
* To sterilise your jars: Wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean tea cloth. Put them on a baking tray, and in an oven preheated to 350°F/180°C for 5 minutes.*
And there you have it! Told you it was easy.
If you don’t need so much mincemeat, or don’t want to keep it in a cupboard for three years (which is what i do!) then feel free to halve the recipe, that should make quite a few batches of mince pies this Christmas anyway!
Give yourself a pat on the back for being so organised, and i’ll tell you the ‘worlds best mince pies’ recipe a bit closer to December…