Christmas can be a really busy time, and I’m always grateful for any ideas that help me get everything done without too many late nights or tantrums. So while in a perfect world, we might all be stirring our mincemeat together during November, the truth is we sometimes put things off until the last minute. So here’s a recipe for a really delicious mincemeat that doesn’t have to be made weeks in advance… you can even keep the ingredients in the store cupboard as an insurance policy against the mince pies all running out on Christmas Eve.
Mincemeat is a peculiarly English invention. In the Middle Ages, our ancestors didn’t have our inhibitions about mixing meat, dried fruit and spices together, and the use of expensive imported ingredients meant you could demonstrate your wealth (and not as is sometimes suggested, cover up the flavour of rotting meat!). Then, as merchants travelled farther afield, they discovered new and exotic ingredients such as sugar, aromatic spices and citrus fruit. As sugar became cheaper, mincemeat became less a savoury dinner course, and more a sweet end to the meal, and by the 1840s, Eliza Acton is writing a mincemeat recipe where the only meat is beef suet. Continue reading