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Mince Pie

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gracoman View Drop Down
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    Posted: 29 March 2018 at 13:03
I'm putting this in the New England forum rather than the British forum because mince pie was once a strong tradition in the state of Maine and it is part of my heritage.  Mince pie was served at every one of my relative's Thanksgiving and Christmas table and I fell in love with it at an early age.

The Christmas Pie - A Maine Tradition of the Past

You'll see mince pie mentioned in the Baked Beans and Brown Bread post under the Lumber Camp Menu.

The mince pies my farmer relatives served were different than the pies served by the folks who lived in town and I didn't like them nearly as much as the pies made by my Mother and maternal Grandmother.  The farmers, my paternal Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, worked large tracts of land. Mostly apple orchards with 1 six level chicken barn and one small dairy house before that particular barn burned down due to a faulty kerosene powered milking machine. 

There was no shortage of deer hunting on these properties, which totaled about 600 acres in Rural Maine, and I'm pretty sure those Christmas pies were true venison mincemeat pies

The "town pies" were always made with a commercially produced filling and always of the same brand and flavored with Rum and Brandy.  Crosse & Blackwell sells was, and still is, my favorite mince pie filling.  I don't usually care for commercially made pie fillings but I will make an exception with this one.

Crosse & Blackwell was established in 1706 in London as Jacksons later becoming West & Wyatt before selling the business to Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell in 1830.  The name has remained Crosse & Blackwell even after being bought out by Nestle in 1960 and again by Primier foods and then divided between Smuckers, the Princess Group in Europe and Tiger Brands in South Africa.  Tiger brands is currently under scrutiny for the largest Listeria outbreak in history so that may change soon.  I only mention this history because it has been my experience that whenever a company changes hands the product or products line is cheapened.  With Crosse & Blackwell Mincemeat, the flavor seems to still be there but the amount of fruit has changed.  I don't know if there was ever any meat or meat broth ever in the original formula(s) but I suspect there was.  Not anymore.  Its all fruit now.

The weather changed from rain to snow and I decided to bake a Crosse & Blackwell mince pie.  The filling is available in local grocery stores during the holidays and I always pick up a few extra jars for when the mood strikes.  For me, this pie tastes like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Crosse & Blackwell's Mincemeat pie filling and topping's holiday availability must mean I'm not the only one.

Crosse & Blackwell mince pie

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2018 at 13:37
Meat was an integral part of mincemeat through the 18th and early 19th centuries, when it began to disappear as we became more of an urban society. It all but disappeared in the first half of the 20th century, and the scarcities of WWII were pretty much its deathknell.

Mince made with meat is dense, heavy, and rich in cholesterol, which is one reason it's been eliminated. Another is the time it takes to make and age properly.

I well remember Crosse & Blackwell products from my days in Boston. But don't know as I've ever come across it elsewhere. Maybe some high-end "gourmet" shops in the Big Apple, but I wouldn't swear to it.

My favorite version is a Custis/Lee family recipe dating to around 1760, according to "The Williamsburg Art of Cookery," which itself was published in 1938. But it's likely the recipe pre-dates that, just as "Martha Washington's Book of Cookery" is a misnomer for a family heirloom cookery manuscript that goes back to 1645.

At any rate, I'm glad to see you bring this up, G-man. Mincemeat, with our without actual meat, is becoming a lost culinary tradition that more folks should give a try.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2018 at 13:53
Oh, fwiw, here is the Custis/Lee recipe:

Mince Meat for Pies

Simmer two Pounds of Beef slowly until tender; cool and chop fine. Mix with it two Pounds of stoned Raisins; two Pounds of seedless Raisins; two Pounds of cleaned Currants; one Pound of finely cut Citron; one and a half Pounds of finely cut candied Lemon-peel; four Pounds of Apples which have been peeled, cored, and cut fine; two Pounds of finely chopped Beef-suet; two Pounds of light brown Sugar; one Tablespoon each of Colves and Mace; two Tablespoons of Cinnamon; two grated Nutmegs and one Teaspoon of Salt. Mix all together well, add one Pint of Brandy. Store in a covered stone Jar in a cool place.


Traditionally, the Christmas mince would be put up around September, with the brandy (later on Rum was used) periodically refreshed.

If you envision the result of this, and compare it with G-Man’s great photo, it’s easy to see how modern versions are more acceptable, and more resemble fruit pies.


But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2018 at 14:09
Excellent topic, gMan!

Mincemeat Pie is something I've wanted to try for most of my adult life, ever since I came across a reference to it in some book somewhere; It always seems to be exactly the thing a person should be enjoying on a grey day with snow falling outside.

I claim no expertise or authenticity with this recipe, but it is the one that I've always wanted to try. This recipe comes from a line of books that I've had for a very long time, The Hunting and Fishing Library:

Quote Mincemeat and Mincemeat Pie

Once you make your own big-game mincemeat, you may never use canned mincemeat again. Homemade mincemeat is delicious and fills the house with the smell of the holidays. Use homemade mincemeat exactly as you would the commercial variety. Try it as a filling for cookies or tarts, as a warm topping for ice cream and, of course, as the main ingredient in the traditional holiday pie.

Venison Mincemeat

2 lbs. lean ground deer, antelope, elk or moose (uncooked)
1/4 lb. beef suet, ground medium-fine (you may also substitute 2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) suet with 1/4 cup butter)
5 cups seedless dark or golden raisins
4 cups chopped tart apple
3 cups apple cider
2 cups currants
2 cups packed brown sugar
1.5 cups granulated sugar
One 8-oz. package chopped citron
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup coarsely-chopped slivered almonds
Grated peel from 3 or 4 oranges
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. mace
1 tsp. allspice
*Optional - 1/4 cup brandy or rum

In large Dutch oven or stockpot, combine all ingredients except brandy. Mix well. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Reduce heat; cover. Simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Cool. Stir brandy into mincemeat.

Place mincemeat into pint- or quart-sized containers for storage. Mincemeat can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days, or frozen for up to a year. Mincemeat may also be canned in a pressure cooker; process pint jars for 60 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.


Big-Game Mincemeat Pie

4 to 5 cups venison mincemeat
1 recipe double pie crust pastry (see below)
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water

Prepare mincemeat and pie crust as directed. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

On lightly-floured board, roll one-half of pastry into thin circle at least two inches larger than inverted 9-inch pie plate. Fit crust into pie plate, pressing gently against bottom and side. Trim overhang 1/2-inch from rim. Fill with mincemeat.

Roll out remaining pastry. Place on filling. Seal and flute edges. If desired, roll out pastry scraps; cut into decorations and place on pastry top. Cut several slits in pastry top.

Blend egg and water. Brush over top. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes.


Double Pie Crust Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, room temperature
5 to 7 Tablespoons cold water

Combine flour and salt in medium mixing bowl. Cut shortening and Butter into flour until particles resemble coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle flour mixture with cold water while tossing with fork until particles just cling together. Divide into two balls.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2018 at 15:14
I believe the reason I didn't care for the farm pies, likely real mincemeat pies, was the intensity.  This was a long time ago and I was very young and vaguely remember something about "adult" pie.  It's a bit odd I took a liking to the Crosse & Blackwell filling considering how young I was and how strong even those flavors are.  The reason I know it was C&B filling is I distinctly remember my parents and grandparents having a dinner conversation about which filling was best.  The plain or the rum & brandy. 

This all reminds me of the time, many years ago now, that I tried to reproduce an English Christmas "Figgy" pudding, suet and all, from my Grandmother's 1915 copy of Fannie Merritt Farmer's Boston Cooking-School  Cook Book.  I brought the flaming pudding to the table.  Flames always mean lot's of Oooooo's and ahhhhhh's.  Especially from my then young children.  Let it burn out and serve.  It all went to heck after that.  I think every one yacked and spit it out at the same time.  I was no better.  At least the hard sauce was okay.  Fruit pie for me please LOL


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2018 at 17:25
If you make that version, Ron, endeavor to find the suet (it's harder and harder, nowadays, cuz most of it goes to the bird-feeder folks), rather than subbing butter. Suet is what gives mincemeat its distinctive flavor.

In fact, as early as 1745, in her "The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy," Hannah Glasse has a recipe for what is essentially a meatless version. But it still uses suet for flavor. She recommends, too, that if you choose (chuse) to use meat, a neat's tongue is best.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 March 2018 at 17:27
Ya know, G-Man, I had almost the exact same experience. Only it was with a group of invited guests. For a long time I thought I'd done something wrong---until a Brit friend told me is was supposed to taste like that.

How can anything that sounds so good be so bad?
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 March 2018 at 05:53
Gracoman

i am a grand fan of Mince Meat Pie ..

Gorgeous foto too ..

Shall prepare one ( did many years ago ..  my mom who emigrated from France to Montreal used to prepare for French festive days ..  )    

I have a récipe -- from her .. I shall see the nuances ..  But need to see if I can find her récipe !

Thanks for posting .. 

Have a lovely weekend ..  

*** Margaux is my legal birth certificate name & name everyone here calls me ..

Margi is actually a Nick name and only Ron and Fillipo, the dad of my daughters,  call me Margi !!!    And  Historic Foodie calls me " Marge "  ..  Ha Ha ..   







 
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www.issuu.com / Beyond Taste, Oltre il Gusto ..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gracoman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 March 2018 at 08:03
Originally posted by Margi Cintrano Margi Cintrano wrote:


*** Margaux is my legal birth certificate name & name everyone here calls me ..

Margi is actually a Nick name and only Ron and Fillipo, the dad of my daughters,  call me Margi !!!    And  Historic Foodie calls me " Marge "  ..  Ha Ha ..   
My Margi story,

A friend of mine, Margaux, a local French pottery importer and wholesaler goes by the nickname Margi.  Because of this, the name Margi comes easy to me.  I will try to remember to use Margaux, Margaux. 

I tried to convince Margi to add the French tian to her inventory, the traditional casserole dish used to make a cassoulet in the style of Toulouse since they are impossible to find in the US but she said there would probably be no market for them.  I remember that, at the time, an imported French red tian was ridiculously expensive so I did my best to get one from her.  She offered to bring me a single tian with her on the plane but that would have been unfair of me to ask due to the size, weight, and breakability of the piece.  I finally found one at Bram and ordered the 5.5 qt which they have made for them by a local potter.  I am surprised at how much the price of these has jumped in just a few short years.  It has almost doubled.  I guess there is a supply and demand thing happening here.

The history of how this "does everything" piece came to also be used for the Southwestern style of cassoulet is as interesting as is the choice of beans.

Cassoulet Tarbais beans are now grown in California by Rancho Gordo, my go to bean vendor.  They may be as different from the French grown beans as are Le Puy lentils from other lentils but I'll probably never know.  I'm not paying $40/pound for beans unless they are Jack and the Beanstalk magic beans.

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 March 2018 at 11:55
Gracoman,

Exemplary short story ..  A sheer Reading pleasure ..

Thank you for posting it ..  

Pleased to hear your have non Gmo resources for your beans .. 

They are a  Mediterranean staple ..  Spain, Italy and  France, are large consumers of beans of varying types ..  



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