During medieval times, mincemeat pies and tarts were made with actual meat (such as oxtail and mutton), but modern mincemeat tends to contain suet (animal fat), plus a mixture of fresh and dried fruit, nuts, sugar, butter and spices. It’s easy to simmer the mincemeat mixture on the stovetop and then spoon it into pastry shells for tarts or pie.
2 tart apples, coarsely grated or finely chopped
1 to 2 pears, coarsely grated or finely chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup currants
1/2 cup candied citron or peel
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)
1/4 cup brandy, bourbon or rum (optional)
Pastry for a single or double crust pie
Milk or cream, for brushing (optional)
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
In a large Dutch oven, combine all the ingredients except the walnuts or pecans (if you’re using them) over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the mixture is dark golden and thick. Remove from the heat and let cool; stir in the nuts and brandy, if you’re using them. Store in a sealed container or jars in the fridge for up to two weeks, or freeze for six months. Makes about six cups (1.5 L).
To make tarts, preheat the oven to 375˚F and on a lightly floured surface, roll a piece of pastry to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut 2 1/2-inch circles with a cookie cutter or glass rim and press into ungreased muffin tins. Re-roll the scraps once and cut out small rounds, stars or other shapes to set on top.
Fill each pastry cup with mincemeat and top with a small pastry shape. If you like, brush with a little milk or cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool until warm, then run a thin knife around the edge to remove them from the pan. Makes about one dozen tarts, with enough mincemeat left over for a second batch.