Friday, November 4, 2011
PIE #47 - Mincemeat Pie
Mincemeat pie has never wooed me. In fact, it has shooed me. Perhaps it's the integral ingredient of beef suet that keeps me a good distance away. Mincemeat pie begins with good intentions: the delectable medley of fruit, nuts, spices and spirits creates a harmonious combination. Then, like a jolting sour note, beef suet barges into the symphony. Beef suet, in case you want the gory details, is the raw fat typically found around the kidneys. It must be extracted from the bloody connective tissue before use. Sound appetizing?
Sweet pies should woo, not moo.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, however, I must include a recipe for mincemeat pie. Mince pie, as it is sometimes called, can be traced back to the 13th century when European crusaders, bearing exotic spices and cooking methods, returned home from the Holy Land. Mincemeat pie has since become a classic pie served at Christmas in many British households.
Hence, a pie with such a longstanding history deserves a spot in my pie-baking quest. As I researched mincemeat pie recipes, I wasn't overly "moooved" at the notion of procuring beef suet, removing the bloody connective tissue, and rendering the fat. Therefore, I settled on a recipe that uses prepared mincemeat which is readily available in the baking aisle of most supermarkets. The brand I found is called "None Such" and is sold in a 27 ounce jar. It contains a combination of apples, raisins, citrus peel, and spices. Appearing near the end of the ingredient list is beef. Tentatively sampling it, fearing that I might be repulsed by it, I was tempted to exclaim, "Where's the beef?" There was absolutely no hint of meaty flavor, much to my relief.
Despite my deep skepticism and trepidation, my mincemeat pie turned out surprisingly well. And although for me, mincemeat will still not woo, at least now I have a clue and I no longer eschew. Who knew?
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
6-8 tablespoons cold water
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the shortening, breaking it into smaller pieces and tossing it with the flour. With the mixer on low speed, blend the shortening into the flour until you have what looks like course, damp meal, with both large and small clumps. Sprinkle on half of the water. Turning the machine on and off, mix briefly on low speed. Add the remaining water in 2 stages, mixing slowly until the dough starts to form large clumps. If you're using a stand mixer, stop periodically to stir the mixture up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces. The bottom crust piece should be slightly larger than the other. Place each piece on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough, with floured hands, into disks about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight before rolling.
On a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper, roll the larger portion of dough into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert over a 9-inch pie pan, center, and peel off paper. Tuck the pastry into the pan, and let the overhang drape over the edge.
1 (18-ounce) jar prepared mincemeat pie filling
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2 medium sized apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup rum or brandy
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine mincemeat, walnuts, apples, craisins, brown sugar, lemon juice and rum in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take filling out of refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Stir filling well and pour into bottom pie crust shell. Top with second crust. Top crust may be placed in a lattice design or decorative cut-outs can be made on the top crust.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool for about an hour. Serve at room temperature and store pie in refrigerator.
*Make sure to prepare the filling first a day before because it requires an overnight stay in the refrigerator.