Imagine, if you will, a dessert called Cider Pie.
Into it we'll put diced apples, some dried fruit, warm spices, pungent citrus, and brown sugar, and we'll give all that a long, slow simmer in some cider until it breaks down into a delicious filling. And then we'll stir in some booze, because hey, live a little.
That sounds pretty good, right? Which means mincemeat has an image problem, because that's exactly what I've just described. It's a delicious pie, but the name itself seems to turn people off.
In the Middle Ages, the combination of sweet and savory was far more common. (If you've ever had a pork chop with applesauce, you know of its magic.) And yes, mincemeat would have had actual meat in those days.
But meatless versions have been around for at least a century or so, preserving the core flavors of the dessert while stripping out the parts modern eaters might find objectionable. Adding to its old-fashioned air — and its lack of modern love, no doubt — mincemeat was commonly canned, so it may bring your grandmother to mind.
Per usual, the homemade version is superior to what you might find for sale at the store. Believe me: I once made quite a fool of myself when I saw a display of the stuff sitting on the meat counter, and it was not worth the embarrassment.
When it's done right, though, it's basically Christmas in a crust. The recipe I use says to let the pie cool to room temperature, but I like it warm with ice cream.
While vanilla is nice, I made ginger frozen yogurt one summer and knew it would be the perfect compliment for mincemeat. The sweetness of the pie and the tang of the ginger are in complete harmony, and it's a blissful experience — perfect for the holiday table or a cold gray day in the months that follow.
Modern Mincemeat Pie
For the filling:
- 3 Granny Smith apples, large (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 McIntosh apples, large (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup diced candied orange peel (optional)
- Grated zest and juice from 1 orange
- Grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider, plus more as needed
- 1/3 cup rum or brandy
For the pie:
- Prepared double-crust pie dough
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the filling, place all ingredients except 1/2 cup cider and rum in large, heavy saucepan set over medium-low heat. Bring to boil and simmer gently, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until mixture thickens and darkens in color, about 3 hours, adding more cider as necessary to prevent scorching. Continue cooking, stirring every minute or two, until mixture has jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup apple cider and rum and cook until liquid in pan is thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes; cool mixture.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 F. Roll out dough and fill with the mincemeat, topping with second crust. Cut 4 slits in dough top. Brush egg white on top crust and sprinkle evenly with sugar. Bake until crust is light golden brown, 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 350 F; continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Chef's Notes: Mincemeat can be refrigerated for several days. I've never used candied orange peel on fruitcake-related principle.
Source: America's Test Kitchen
Ginger Frozen Yogurt
- 1 quart plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Line colander or fine-mesh strainer with triple layer of cheesecloth and place over large bowl or measuring cup. Place yogurt in colander, cover with plastic wrap (plastic should not touch yogurt), and refrigerate until 1 1/4 cups whey have drained from yogurt, at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours. (If more whey drains, simply stir extra back into yogurt.)
Discard 3/4 cup drained whey. Sprinkle gelatin over remaining 1/2 cup whey in bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around edges and gelatin dissolves, about 30 seconds. Stir fresh ginger and ground ginger into mixture and let cool for 5 minutes. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract all liquid.
In large bowl, whisk sugar, syrup, salt, drained yogurt, and cooled whey-gelatin mixture until sugar is completely dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until yogurt mixture registers 40 degrees or less. Churn yogurt mixture in ice cream maker until mixture resembles thick soft-serve frozen yogurt and registers about 21 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer frozen yogurt to airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.
Chef's Notes: The original recipe calls for Lyle's Golden Syrup in place of the corn syrup, but I haven't yet had the appetite for an ingredient I have to mail order. Low- or no-fat yogurt can be substituted but the usual trade-offs in taste and texture will apply.
Source: America's Test Kitchen