Friday, 16 December 2011
last minute christmas mincemeat...
Even though Christmas is nearly upon us, it's still not too late to make your own mincemeat. If you've never made this before it is one of the simplest things to make, but also very gratifying. There is very little work involved. After some weighing, a little chopping and grating, all you need to do is stir occasionally while your house fills with the smell of Christmas-ness.
My recipe is vegetarian, nut free and best of all, there are no horrible big lumps of candied peel - my own personal idea of Christmas hell! As you are making it yourself you can, of course, put the best of everything in… muscatel raisins, golden sultanas, etc. as they really make a big difference to the finished product.
I use butter in mine, as I prefer the flavor to the traditional suet and it also makes it suitable for vegetarians. It will, however, look a little cloudy in the jar, but that will melt away on heating. I also don't include any nuts, as there are a lot of nut allergies around these days. They can be incorporated in the topping instead for those who really love them, but feel free to add some to your own. About 50g of almonds for this quantity of mincemeat is about right, making sure to toast them first to bring out all of their delicious nutty flavor. You could also use brandy or rum in place of the sherry if that's what you have. I also use regular salted butter but if you are using unsalted remember to add a pinch of salt to the mixture.
175g/6oz glacé cherries
1 small Bramley or other cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
225g/8oz light muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice
Grated zest of one orange
Grated zest and juice of one lemon
200ml/7floz of good quality sherry.
Weigh out your fruits into a large pan and add in the chopped apple, zests and lemon juice, butter, sugar and spices. Allow to melt together over a low heat, then simmer very gently for about 10 minutes. When the mixture has cooled completely, stir in the sherry. Spoon the mix into sterilized jars, seal, label (with love) and store in a cool place.
This makes four jars of mince meat. Use it to make traditional mince pies to feed the hordes of hungry carol singers calling to your door.
"But what else can I do with it?" I hear you ask… Well, you can mix up your mince pie toppings with almond meringue piped on instead of a pastry lid. Or try a simple nutty crumble topping piled over. Or festive-up your regular ice-cream with a warm dollop of mix. Or even make a bread and butter pudding with slices of plain white bread or brioche sandwiched together with a generous spread of this as a filling before pouring over your custard and baking as usual. Mmmmm!
And of course, if you pack it into a pretty jar and tie a jaunty bow, they do make lovely homemade Christmas stocking fillers.