I know ‘mincemeat.’ The word conjures up images of ground beef and certainly doesn’t sound like something you’d like to put in pastry. Fortunately, mincemeat has absolutely nothing to do with meat, it’s just a combination of fruits, alcohol, and spices. Typical recipes do call for suet, but I’ve gone for a completely vegetarian version to get even farther from those unpleasant mental images.
I like this recipe for a number of reasons. Instead of using suet to keep the mincemeat moist, you slowly cook the dried fruit in a bit of port until all the port is absorbed. Then, you add some rum for good measure. To jazz up the dried fruit, I added some dried cranberries to the typical combination of currents and raisins. I like the slight sour note and dash of colour they give. As a heads up, mincemeat recipes usually call for some candied peel. I do not like candied peel and tend to avoid it like the plague so this recipe leaves it out. If you’re one of those people who don’t think the devil can be found in candied peel, go ahead and throw some in. Everything considered, the best thing about this recipe is the way it makes your house smell. When the fruit is slowly warming in the port infused with clove, cinnamon, and ginger, your house smells heavenly.
This mincemeat makes a fabulous filler for mince pies (more on that later), but it is also great served as a sweet chutney with sharp cheeses like extra old cheddar. I like to finish a meal with a few slices of cheddar, a glass of port, and a spoonful or two of this mincemeat.
Makes ~2 1/2 cups of mincemeat (enough for 18 pies)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup port
- 2 cups diced apples (about 3 apples)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 3/4 cup dried currents
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries (preferably unsweetened)
- 1 clementine, juice and zest
- 1 1/2 tbsp spiced rum or brandy
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp honey (unnecessary if you have sweetened cranberries)
- Peel and chop the apples into smallish pieces. You don’t want the apple segments to be so small they will turn to mush when cooked.
- Pour the port and measure the brown sugar into a medium sized pot (everything will end up in here eventually so make sure its big enough to hold all the dried fruit).
- Heat the port over medium low until the sugar dissolves.
- Transfer the chopped apples to the pot.
- Add the currents, raisins, cranberries, ginger, ground cloves, cinnamon, and the clementine juice and zest to the pot.
- Give everything a good stir.
- Turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer until all the port has been absorbed by the fruit stirring occasionally. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
- Take the pot off the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the rum, honey, and vanilla extract.
- Stir to evenly distribute the moisture.
- Leave the mincemeat to cool completely.
- You can use the mincemeat straight away or transfer to a container and store in the fridge for up to three weeks.