It’s this time of year, when I start to look forward to Christmas. I try to keep Christmas firmly out of my mind until December has started, and I’m glad that the French have not yet fallen into the trap of starting to set out their Christmas merchandise as soon as August is over, or putting their Christmas decorations up at the beginning of November. I know there are villages around here that never take down their Christmas lights, but at least they don’t turn them on until the appropriate moment. I’m sure you can tell how I feel about timing in relation to Christmas, so I’ll stop the rant now!! 🙂
For me Christmas isn’t Christmas without some mince pies. I was fortunate to be given a recipe for mincemeat by my dear friend Nadine Holm. She has been using it for her mincemeat for a very long time, and I believe it’s a fairly old recipe. Why? Because for this recipe you actually add meat! Wikipedia has a fascinating article on mincemeat here. I was very interested to read that the mince in mincemeat and mince pie comes from the Latin minutia, which means smallness. When we mince something we usually make it small, as in chopping, so that makes perfect sense.
Anyhow, I digress. A few months ago I decided to try Nadine’s recipe, and I enlisted the help of a friend to prepare it with me, and to share the resulting mincemeat. Preparing the mincemeat months before Christmas means that the flavours have time to develop (much as for fruitcake and Christmas pudding) and that it will be much tastier. It also means that you have one less thing to think about in the run up to Christmas!! Here is the recipe (you’ll find a scanned copy of the recipe at the end of this post):
I assembled the various ingredients – not all that easy, as ready prepared suet is unknown in France, and brown sugar is fairly difficult to find. But where there is a will…
Weighing out the sugar, raisins, suet and citrus peel was the easiest part. I prefer to use brown sugar for all the recipes which contain lots of dried fruit, such as Christmas puddings, fruit cake and the mincemeat. I managed to get the suet from a supermarket that stocks British products, but I have in the past prepared it myself, buying beef fat from the butcher and grating it – somewhat laborious to say the least! The cooked meat was put through the meat grinder, and the apples were peeled, cored and chopped finely. I ground the spices by hand, the aroma was wonderful!
The smell when the pan came to a boil was beautiful – and very reminiscent of Christmas! As it simmered, the quantity in the pan reduced, and the texture changed from very liquid to a more jam-like consistency. I know the colour isn’t very appetising, partly due to the yellow cast from the lighting – I’m sorry!!
Soon it was time to put the mincemeat into jars. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
Oops, that one got filled a little too much 😮
And then we were done, and all the jars were stored on the shelf until we’re ready to make those delicious mince pies! Roll on Christmas!!