- ½ braised beef cheek (6 ounces)
- 4½ ounces suet (beef fat)
- ½ pound currants
- ¼ pound raisins
- 1½ teaspoons mace
- 1½ teaspoons ground cloves
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2½ ounces candied lemon and orange peel (mixed)
- 1/3 cup rum
MARISSA NICOSIA’S MODERNIZED RECIPE
Savory, rich and delicious, these mince pies are a welcome alternative version of a classic British holiday treat.
The day before I made the mince pies, I whipped up a batch of my favorite pie crust from Orangette, used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen to candy some orange and lemon peel and loosely followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe for braised beef cheeks to cook the meat. Boy, did my apartment smell good.
Prepare the mincemeat: Shred or chop the beef into small pieces. For an even mix, make sure these pieces are smaller than your raisins. Grate the suet on a box grater or in a food processor so it is also in small pieces. Combine the beef and the suet in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the currants, raisins, spices, salt, sugar, candied peel and rum and set aside.
Make pies: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the pastry. Using a pastry cutter or drinking glass, cut circles. I used a 2 -inch (68 mm) pastry cutter to make nice little pies. Make sure you have an even number of circles so that you have bottoms and lids for all your pies.
I used my handy mince-pie pan to make a batch of 12. You can easily make mince pies on a baking sheet by shaping the top piece of pastry over a mound of mincemeat. I think the full amount of mince would make four dozen little pies (or even more).
Grease your pan. Put 1 tablespoon mincemeat on (or in) each bottom. Place a lid on each pie. Push down the edges of the pastry to seal. Poke a few air holes in the lid with a fork. I brushed the top with an egg wash for a golden crust, but this step is optional. Bake mince pies for 10 to 15 minutes until it is golden brown. For a festive touch, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
NOTE: Giunta’s Prime Shop in the Reading Terminal Market carries suet and can supply beef cheeks with a few days’ notice. Livengood Farms in Lancaster is another great source for rare cuts.
SOURCE: Ms. Codex 252, University of Pennsylvania Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. PHOTOGRAPH: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania