Migration — Time To Make the Mincemeat

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Add to the list of stuff to do: compiling the mincemeat for the pies I make at Thanksgiving. For reasons that I will probably never understand I have several friends who love the stuff. Only one of them was born in New England. The others encountered it for the first time when they arrived in this country from elsewhere.

At one point I was tempted to make the recipe in the old Joy of Cooking, that compendium of all things culinary that has been in print in various editions since 1931. The falling apart copy from 1971 that I inherited from my parents has a mincemeat recipe that calls for ox heart and beef suet.  I have no idea where I would find the former and the latter conjured up images of the balls of fat and bird seed to put in the bird feeders. Plus the mincemeat recipe made enough for 20 pies, 10 times what I needed.

At that point in my researches, I opted to follow the Ann Petry method. She started with a commercial preparation consisting mostly of apples and raisins, although one brand actually contains meat – lard if memory serves. I simmer for about 20 minutes a minced Granny Smith apple, some raisins, a bit of sugar, some spices. When it’s done cooking I add a “generous amount” (Mother’s term) of Cognac, then stir in the commercial preparation. The mixture goes into jars and stashed in the back of the refrigerator. Every few days, I give it a stir to redistribute the cognac and spices until the day before Thanksgiving when I bake the pies and deliver them to the recipients.

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