For years, my father-in-law (he hates that term, but I’m not sure what else to use) has talked with longing about mincemeat pies. His mother used to make them for him. Dave’s grandmother (mom’s side) used to make them for him. I had never eaten one myself and the thought of meat in non-savory pie did not sound appealing. Being a vegetarian did not help either.
Well after a little research, I was happy to find that mincemeat pies don’t actually contain meat anymore. They originated as a savory/sweet pie in the middle ages when meat was indeed a main component, as was suet. Suet is the raw fat from beef or mutton found around the kidneys or loins, in case your knowledge of animal fat is lacking, as was mine.
Cook’s Illustrated had a recipe for “Modern Mincemeat Pie” which contains no meat and no suet – just apples, currants, raisins, butter, cider, sugar, rum, citrus, and a generous hand with the spices. This was a pie I could make and hopefully love.
My intent was to make the pie for his birthday. His birthday is within a week of mine. I unfortunately missed that day as we were out of town. However, I thought that it would be a grand way of using his generous gift by cooking the filling in my new oval Le Creuset dutch oven.
Mincemeat pie does take some time. You have to peel and cut apples and cook the heady concoction for 3 hours before baking. I did this the day before, filling the house with the luscious scents of fall. Never mind that it’s now winter. The weather doesn’t change much in Southern California. Our winters are colder but it’s all relative.
Overall, I liked the pie. It was a little on the tart side. I used Trader Joe’s cider which may not be as sweet as the general grocery store brands. Next time I would add a little sugar to taste. The crust was quite lovely. The egg wash and sprinkling of sugar made it look very professional.
By the way, he loved it. I truly think he was touched that I made this pie just for him. I got a big hug and a thank you note.
Modern Mincemeat Pie
- 3 Granny Smith apples , large (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 McIntosh apples , large (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 1/4 cup diced candied orange peel , (optional)
- Grated zest and juice from 1 orange
- Grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider , plus more as needed
- 1/3 cup rum or brandy
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus more for dusting work surface
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening
- 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 6–8 tablespoons ice water
- 1 egg white , beaten, for glazing crust
- 1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling over crust
- For the filling: Place all ingredients except 1/2 cup cider and rum in large, heavy saucepan set over medium-low heat. Bring to boil and simmer gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until mixture thickens and darkens in color, about 3 hours, adding more cider as necessary to prevent scorching. Continue cooking, stirring every minute or two, until mixture has jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup apple cider and rum and cook until liquid in pan is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes; cool mixture. (Mincemeat can be refrigerated for several days.)
- For the crust: Process flour, sugar, and salt in food processor until combined. Add shortening and process until mixture has texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; cut butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
- Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if dough will not come together. Divide dough into 2 balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour, before rolling. (Dough may be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
- To assemble and bake the pie: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between 2 large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to 12-inch circle. Transfer dough to 9-inch pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over pan (see illustration below). Working around circumference of pan, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into pan bottom with other hand. Leave any dough that overhangs lip of pie plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.
- Roll out second piece of dough to a 12-inch circle. Spoon mincemeat into pie shell. Following illustrations 2 through 5, place second piece of dough over filling. Trim edges of top and bottom dough layers to 1/2 inch beyond pan lip. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edge or press with fork tines to seal. Cut 4 slits in dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place it in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white on top crust and sprinkle evenly with sugar.
- [ NOTE: This pie will leak. I placed a sheet pan lined with parchment below the pie. This helped contain the drips both while baking and while cooling. ]
- Bake until crust is light golden brown, 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.