Monday, November 14, 2016

Good Mincemeat Without Intoxicants

The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cookbook [1909]

Whenever mincemeat pie appears, which is rarely, there is some amount of confusion.  Is there meat in it or not?  Nowadays, if you come across a mincemeat pie, it will almost never have meat in it.  Your modern mincemeat recipe features apples, raisins, cloves, and probably rum.  But travel back in time just a very little bit... and yes.  There's a pretty self-explanatory reason for the name.

Good Mincemeat Without Intoxicants
Five pounds of beef boiled until tender (it should be salted when partly done). Let cool in liquor, remove fat, chop very fine and measure. Use twice as much finely chopped apple, which should be tart, as meat. To the apple and meat then add the liquor in which the meat was boiled; also the fat which has been removed, and one quart of boiled cider. If there was a scant amount of fat, add also half a cup of butter. Jelly or candied fruit will improve the pies, if wanted richer. Add also three teaspoons of cloves, two of cinnamon, same of mace, and three pounds of seeded raisins. No definite rule can be given for sugar, as more or less is required, according to acidity of apples. Sweeten to taste with brown sugar. After all the ingredients have been put together, warm, and if found too thick for use, thin with cider or unfermented grape juice. When hot this can be put up as fruit and kept indefinitely.--Mrs E. M. Widdicomb.

Verdict: I cut down the recipe significantly, from five pounds of beef to one.  This made two pies, which was 1.5 more pies than we needed.  It was nice, just kind of baffling to the tongue.  Whereas the few modern mincemeat pie recipes that still contain meat use just a hint of beef (or just a little bit of beef suet or broth), this was probably fully 1/3 beef.  I finished my slice, and found it agreeable.  The husband and the kids ate a few bites and didn't finish.  The  neighbors that I convinced to take the other pie said it was fun to try, but not something they'd want again.  My mother in law loved it and ate almost half a pie.  The last slice desiccated in the fridge until I threw it out.  

I talked to someone else who had made meated mincemeat pie, who had a lot of trouble with the meat part being tough.  Note: the recipe doesn't say "boil until cooked," but "boil until tender."  That is going to take a long time.  That meat is going to go from raw to shoe leather with no stop in between. Keep going.  Stay the course.  Eventually, it will break down and get chewable again.  The lower and slower, the better.  A slow cooker would work admirably for this.  I used a pressure cooker, which was much faster.   Then, either run it through the food processor, a sausage grinder, or go crazy with your knife.  A cut of meat with lots of marbling will work best.  


Alex "Rook" Grover said...

Traditionally the addition of alcohol would have broken down the texture of the meat. Also, I have been told that a cut without the stringiness of regular cuts was used.

My own experiment with meated mince was fun, but it appears that the use of actual meat was variable, at least in the 18th century.

Jana said...

Thanks, Alex.

S. S. said...

I've done meated mincemeat before. I really liked it, everyone else thought it was weird. And that was before I accidentally let it slip that this particular recipe involved finely chopped kidneys...

Jana said...

Madam, I salute you.