Mincemeat Pie: Because you can never have enough desserts with meat in them.

image via SomeeCards

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Mystery meat… or is it?
Mincemeat leaves us with more questions than answers.

In theory, mincemeat pie’s got a lot going for it: it’s sweet and savory; your entrée and your dessert all rolled into the one dish. It appears at holiday time amid a veritable minefield of culinary missteps— think bone-dry turkey, mini-marshmallow sweet potatoes, and doorstop fruitcake. Still, nothing receives the seasonal snubbing and drubbing of mincemeat pie.

Let’s be honest; mincemeat pie earns the snub. It commits a multitude of textural offenses with its gooey, gloppy, lumpy, chunky, gelatinous filling. It manages to be loaded with sugar and fat without containing crowd pleasing ingredients like chocolate or whipped cream. There’s a big world of splurge-worthy desserts out there— why waste the calories when you could be eating brownies, ice cream, or cheesecake?
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And then there’s the whole meat question.
True mincemeat is truly meaty, although modern meatless versions are common. It originated as a way to preserve meats without salting, smoking, or drying. Chopped meat is combined with fruits (fresh, dried, and candied), spices, suet, and some kind of liquor (usually brandy). The meat of choice is most often beef, although recipes often call for mutton, goose, or sheep’s tongue. The ingredients are combined, then packed in crocks where the flavors commingle and mellow– usually for just a few weeks, although some, I kid you not, swear by the mature flavors of ten year old mincemeat.

Suet? Glad you asked..
Even the all-fruit versions tend to require suet, without which you just don’t get an authentic mincemeaty taste. Suet is raw beef fat that specifically comes from the tissue around a cow’s kidneys. Since it’s solid at room temperature, you can usually buy it in big greasy blocks or sheets. There are vegetarian versions, but taste aside, there is no substitute for the unctuousness of suet.
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Is it a delightful pie that eats like a meal, or a cringe-inducing holiday horror?
When it comes to mincemeat, there is very little middle ground.
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See what mincemeat enthusiasts are up to at the Mince Pie Club, where members submit their experiments and experiences in categories like Pies in Peculiar Places and Pimp My Pie.
My Darling Lemon Thyme updates mincemeat with a zippy, tropical, all- vegetarian mix that is relatively light on the sugar and adds cranberries, pineapple, and banana to the usual apples, citrus, and raisins. It only needs a week to age, so you still have time for a Christmas pie.
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4 Responses to Mincemeat Pie: Because you can never have enough desserts with meat in them.

  1. For years one member of our family made mincemeat pie. She had a piece and my husband (her son) had a token piece. Regardless that no one ate this, it still had a strange place of honor at the holiday table. It was made from some box/can mix and was not a true mincemeat even though I do think it had suet. I think it would be better left for the birds!

  2. Monet says:

    My grandfather adored mincemeat pie…and my grandmother made him one every holiday season. However the rest of the family was always too scared to try! I don’t think my grandmother included meat in her recipe, but we were always a bit put off by the thought of it. I loved learning more about this pie…thanks for such an informative post!

  3. I’ve never tried true mincemeat pie. But my husband’s family has turned making green tomato mince into an annual tradition. It’s delicious and it smells even better when it’s cooking. I love the frugalness of it that brings you back to an earlier day. Waste nothing from the garden. I wanted to turn it into a post since it’s absolutely loaded with spices but we didn’t make it to the green tomato mince party this year. 🙁 True mincemeat sounds horrible.

  4. My grandmother made delicious mincemeat pies, but I have never encountered them elsewhere. It is fascinating to know there is a club.

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