Mincemeat is the mother-of-all holiday recipes. The holy grail to some, especially my friends across the Channel in England. But this version is much easier than any traditional recipe and you can use it very shortly after you make it. A lot of people, who upon hearing the word mincemeat…well, their first reaction is a prolonged and rather extended look of dismay.
I sometimes make mincemeat with suet, and while it in indeed the classic and tastes quite good, it also required ordering a big chunk of kidney fat in advance from the nearby butcher. What’s great about this version is that the flavors of mincemeat are all there, and can be obtained by meatless means.
Candied orange peel, raisins, spices, and liqueur are the primary flavors that mingle in mince, and this simple mixture which mimics that taste pretty closely, without the fleshy fuss. A few handfuls can be added to sliced apples or pears destined for a crisp, cobbler, or pie. I’ve also made Mincemeat Ice Cream by folding this mixture into just-churned vanilla ice cream custard, which is a great addition to a holiday dessert menu, even if doused with warm chocolate sauce.
For this batch, I used some candied orange peel leftover from when I churned up a batch of colorful Blood Orange Sorbet. But even if using store-bought peel, after a good soaking in brandy, the flavor pulled up to the plate and mixes nicely with the raisins. A few swipes of fresh orange zest livens things up, too. Do try it. I add it to apple pies and crisps – and people are always surprised when I tell them that it’s mincemeat. But no one ever stops eating.
One cup (250 g)
This quantity is enough to mix with enough apples or pears for one pie, crisp, or cobbler. (Using 8 cups of fruit per, depending on how strong you want the flavor. You can use more, or less.) Simply toss the desired amount with your sliced fruit and proceed. Since the candied oranges are slightly sweet, you can reduce the amount of sugar in whatever recipe you’re using by a tablespoon or depending on how sweet your apples are, you can leave it out.
Dried currants or diced prunes can also replace some of the raisins, for variety. Like regular mincemeat, this will keep for quite a long time, and can be made weeks, or even months before you plan to use it. Keep it in a jar at room temperature. The taste of the brandy will mellow nicely the longer it sits. You can find my recipe for Traditional Mincemeat here.
- 2/3 cup (90g) coarsely chopped raisins, dark or golden
- 1/2 cup (60g) chopped candied orange peel
- 1/4 cup (60ml) brandy, plus more, if necessary
- grated zest of one orange (preferably unsprayed)
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon (each) ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1. Mix everything together and pack in a jar.
2. Let stand for at least one to three days before using. If the brandy absorbs quickly and the mixture appears dry, add another pour, just enough so the mixture is thoroughly moistened.
3. Add to apple or pear-based fruit fillings prior to baking.
Note: For those avoiding alcohol, try substituting apple cider or juice and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in place of the brandy. If omitting the brandy, this mixture should be refrigerated and used within three or four days. Otherwise it will keep for at least two months.
Candied orange peel is available in well-stocked supermarkets around the holiday season. Look for a brand with no artificial colors and no preservatives, if possible. You can also buy it online.
Make your own Candied Citrus Peel (Simply Recipes)
Traditional Mincemeat (Delia Online)
My candied orange peel recipe can be found in Ready For Dessert.