When I was researching my original cookbook, I discovered that your basic traditional mincemeat pie was (of course, duh) made partially of meat. It usually had large amounts of beef suet as well, which was something I had usually relegated to bird feeders. I came across a recipe and made some modifications, which really means I omitted the meat and suet. However, the amount of alcohol in the filling made the whole thing—to be perfectly blunt about it—disgusting.
I see that a good mincemeat can be stored for up to ten years, according to Wikipedia. Well, times and tastes have changed, and I decided to make an updated version. I also decided to omit any sort of meat product, except for lard in the crust. You can certainly substitute vegetable shortening for the lard, then you’ll have a vegetarian-friendly dessert. This is a great pie to make for the fall/winter holiday season.
From “The Hobbit”—Bilbo’s Pantry
The dwarf Bofur asks specifically for some mince pie with cheese. I’m not sure how Bofur knows that Bilbo obviously must have some mince pie in his too-full-pantry, but Bofur does. And Bilbo, indeed, does.
“Bofur’s Mince Pie”
- 2 cups raisins and/or currants
- 8 ounces chopped sugar dates
- 1 cup dried blueberries
- 1 cup dried apricots, cut into ¼” bits
- 1½ cups orange juice
- ½ cup cognac (dark rum would also work, or try a liqueur such as Amaretto or Frangelico)
- 4 ounces coarsely chopped walnuts
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 ounces cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into ¼” bits
- 7-9 tablespoons ice water
- Optional: some “cheese” on the side (a few slices of sharp Cheddar would be nice)
- Optional sauce, recipe below
In a large bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients. Pour into a 7-cup glass container and cover. Refrigerate overnight; stir a couple of times. Place a strainer over a medium bowl and drain the fruit for one hour. Reserve this liquid for the optional sauce below, if desired (you should end up with ¾ cup). Put fruit into a large bowl and add the walnuts, ¼ cup sugar, and spices. Set aside.
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the lard or shortening and combine well. Mix in the water, starting with 6 tablespoons. Add more water and mix until the dough comes together well and is still moist. Divide dough into a 2/3 and a 1/3 portion. Flatten into discs and wrap each with plastic wrap or put each into covered containers. Refrigerate dough for 30-60 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured surface, roll out the 2/3 portion of dough to approximately 13″ and lay in a 9½” glass pie dish. Pour in the fruit/nut mixture. Roll out 1/3 portion of dough to approximately 12″ and lay on top. Trim the edges, fold over and crimp decoratively; reserve scraps. Cut a ½” hole in center. With scraps of dough, cut small decorations and set on top of pie. Spray lightly with water and sprinkle liberally with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake 46-50 minutes until golden brown. Set on rack. Let cool at least two hours before cutting. Keep leftovers covered at room temperature. Serves 8-10.
- ¾ cup reserved juice (if needed, add some orange juice to bring the amount to ¾ cup)
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a 1½-quart saucepan, using a whisk. Bring to a rolling simmer with a medium/low heat, whisking frequently. Then turn the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens, whisking occasionally. Nice with the pie and/or ice cream. Cover and refrigerate leftovers; reheat very slowly. Makes about 1½ cups.