As we’re on the run up to Christmas we thought it an opportune time to share one of Lady Kennaway’s favourite festive foodstuffs. Lucy is a big fan of homemade mincemeat, the central element of the ubiquitous mince pie.
When did mincemeat first appear?
It was first popular in the Middle Ages, and instead of the small pies we know and love, these were sizeable, big enough to satisfy a large appetite.
While we’re used to the fruity mincemeat, originally it was made, as the name suggests, of meat! Usually this would have been mutton, but you could also use beef, pork, rabbit or game – whatever you happened to have handy. Added in was fruit, and suet to preserve the filling. Wealthy households would add spices including saffron and ginger. The pastry was very basic, flour and water.
Somewhere along the line, the meat in mincemeat began to disappear, although meat-based suet was included for a long time due to its preserving qualities. Most mincemeat now uses vegetarian suet.
Perfect for breaktimes
Our homemade mince pies are a must-have for our conference delegates at this time of year. They’re ideal for morning and afternoon breaks, especially when served with a hot drink. On colder days the traditional log fires give an extra festive feel to the event.
Lady Kennaway is our in-house caterer, drawing on her years of experience, including a stint at Prue Leith’s where she studied Food, Wine and Restaurant Management.
Lady Kennaway’s simple mincemeat recipe
- 150g sultanas
- 150g currants
- 100g raisins
- 85g chopped mixed peel
- (or your preferred mix to approx. 375g of dried fruit)
- 1 lemon – zest and juice
- 75g suet – vegetarian / gluten free options available
- 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 100ml brandy
- Spices – usually 1½ tsp mixed spice and 1 tsp ground cinnamon but you can also add a little grated nutmeg
- 200g Muscavado sugar
Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan (apart from the brandy) and cook on a low heat until the suet and sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool before adding the brandy.
If you like, you can soak the sultanas, raisins and currants in the brandy and lemon juice for about an hour until they’ve become plump. Drain the brandy and set aside to use as above.
The mincemeat can be used straight away, but some people like to keep it for a couple of weeks to give added flavour. You’ll need sterilised jars, just press the mincemeat in and cover. It should be fine in the fridge for six months, but at Escot it never lasts that long!
Lady K’s top tip
“I like to add extra lemon and orange zest and juice to cut through the sweetness.”