Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Why's and Hows of Mincemeat

Cheryl asked the quintessentially important question about mincemeat. What they heck do you do with it? I'm glad you asked actually, since I thought this was standard Christmas tradition. Some of you may be familiar with this, but for those who have not had the pleasure, you'll just have to trust me. Its dee-lish. Mincemeat is a typical pie or tart filling. You put it in a double pastry shell, and bake until the shell is golden brown and voila...Minced Pie. And you can't forget the vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top. Both are best, if you ask me. Eric and I also eat it straight up - that is with no topping or pastry shell. Although I assume this is not part of of the culinary ethic.

It does not taste much like meat, in fact most standard minced pies have no meat in them at all. I do possess a recipe called "Green Tomatoe Mincemeat" - and I hear that it is pretty tasty. At this time of the year, its difficult to procure a big quanity of green tomatoes to make it. Its tangy and spicy (the nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves), and heavy. and makes you crave just one more slice after you have already porked out.

My grandma used to make it every year. She was a down home type of gal. She knew how to do everything - make jam, crystal clear jelly from a crab apple tree growing in the middle of the woods, knit socks and mits without a pattern, make headcheese and saurkraut (i'll pass on the headcheese), and she ironed her underware. My grandfather was also a salt of the earth type of guy too and hunted all kinds of game: Partridge, Grouse, Pheasant, Rabbit, Deer and Moose. Every year until he was in his 80's he'd go deer hunting, and when my grandmother was still with us, there was always wild game around. She'd make mincemeat from the very beginning. I have to say that I cheated some - I used ground beef. She'd use the still edible but tough cuts (since nothing was wasted) and grind it up in her manual meat grinder. She mostly use moose or deer neck. When you use this style, you also need to use suet. Wikipedia has a nice explaination of suet if you dare. You don't need it with hamburger. Anyway. mincemeat required a fair bit of elbow grease, and when you made a batch, you made plenty to go around.

So there it is. It was one of my favorite parts of Christmas growing up. That and her rabbit/partridge pie. Which, I don't think I can ever duplicate!!


hotboy said...

This made me really hungry! Hotboy

McSwain said...

Mmmm... Thanks for the explanation, 'cause I think I may actually have to try it.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Whatever will we do when all the grandmas are gone? Who will carry on these traditions?

I'm glad to see you're carrying on the mincemeat tradition, at least. Few people take the time to really cook anymore. I understand why the culture has shifted this way, but we're the poorer for it.

Carslemane Foraix said...

G'day Heather.

Here's a chance for you to visualise your mincemeat.

You've been tagged over at my place.

This time its easy. Just Show Us Your Fridge.

Have a nice Christmas.