Dear <<First Name>>
Would you eat a real mince pie? And when I talk of real, yes I do mean real meat.
Half to two thirds of the pies we now eat at Christmas used to be meat. Either beef or mutton.
This ratio of meat to fruit changed over the centuries.
Cookery book writer Eliza Acton, in the 1840s, includes only the smallest amount of meat, 1lb of meat to 35lb of mincemeat.
The suet in Christmas Mince Pies is all that reminds us of Christmas pies's meaty origins and even that is more of than not vegetarian suet.
For you below is a recipe for a meaty mince pie you can try for yourself, if you dare, a mince pie made with meat and fruit.
This recipe, from the end of the Tudor period, is great for Christmas. It’s substantial, finely flavoured and a real talking point.
Hold it up on a Zoom call and impress your (virtual) nearest and dearest.
For Pyes of Mutton or Beefe; Shred your meat and Suet togither fine, season it with cloves, mace, Pepper, and some Saffron, great Raisins, Corance and prunes, and so put it in your pies.
A.W. A Book of Cookrye Very necessary for all such as delights therin.
It's one of several recipes I'll be exploring in my upcoming 1830 Mince Pie Online Course on the 12th December. Maybe you are coming?
I've opened new dates so if you'd like to come along here's the link.
Until next week, I remain your (humble) Regency cook,
P.s. Here's the link for the Mince Pie course again.
And here’s the adapted recipe from the book A Taste of History, 10,000 Years of Food in Britain, Tudor Britain section by Peter Brears.
For the Filling
700g lean mutton or beef
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground mace
1/2 tsp black pepper
A pinch of saffron
50g stoned prunes, chopped
For the Pastry
450g plain flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 pint water
4 tbsps milk
For the glaze: 1 tbsps of each butter, sugar and rosewater melted together.
Mince the meat, and mix in the suet, spices, pepper, saffron and dried fruit. To make the pastry, sift the flour and slat together into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Heat the lard, water and milk until boiling and pour into the well.
Quickly beat the mixture together with a. Soon to form a soft dough, and knead until smooth on a lightly floured board.
Cut off a quarter of the pastry, and keep covered until required to make the lid. Mould the larger piece of pastry to form the base and sides of the pie within a 20 cm diameter, 5 cm deep loose bottomed tin. Pack the meat into the pie and dampen the edges of the pie wall.
Roll out the remaining pastry to make the lid and firmly press into place. Trim the edges, using the surplus pastry for decoration, and cut a hole in the centre of the lid.
Bake in the centre of the oven at gas mark 7, 425 F, 220 C, for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to gas mark 4, 350 F, 180 C, for a further 1 1/4 hours. Remove the sides of the tin, brush with the glaze, and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes. Serve Cold.
If you make it do let me know how it turned out.