- Food & Drink
It’s the night before the night before Christmas and if Father Christmas has any sense, he is fitting snow chains to his sleigh and fog lights to the reindeers. If he has a lot of sense, he’ll fill out a billion “Sorry You Were Out” cards and spend tomorrow trying to work out how to Sky+ the Doctor Who Specials. But then who would eat all the mince pies and drink all the sherry that the nice little boys and girls left out?
A processed supermarket mince pie is, of course, an insult to Father Christmas. Any child leaving one out immediately has their name transferred to the Naughty Book and is left a lump of coal and a Jamie Oliver cook book. This year, the Gin and Crumpet family will be delighting the Saint’s tastebuds with some Real mincemeat pies.
I made a batch of them for our Christmas party and they were a huge, enormous, overwhelming success. They weren’t savoury, but they weren’t over sweet either. They were rich and aromatic and indulgent; everything Christmas food should be. I regret all the years I’ve spent stirring up buckets of dried fruit and spices when what my mince pies really needed was a big handful of beef.
For pastry, I used puff. I didn’t make it; the key to throwing a good party is knowing when to say: “Bugger it,” and just buy ready-made stuff in. But I made sure that what I bought contained flour and butter and not much else. I have my standards. These pies are best warm (not hot from the oven) and would be delicious with thick cream or brandy butter.
Real mincemeat pies
Makes about 12
Butter, for greasing
375g pack all butter puff pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
500g Real mincemeat
Milk, for glazing
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Melt the butter and brush it inside a 12-hole cake/bun tin.
2 Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry until it’s about as thick as a pound coin. Stamp out 12 8cm rounds and lay them in the cake tin holes. Spoon in the mincemeat and press it down so it’s solidly packed. It should rise a little bit above the pastry edges – 2 heaped tbsp per pie is about right.
3 Reroll the pastry and stamp out 12 6cm rounds as lids. Brush them with milk and place, milk-side-down, on top of the mincemeat. Pinch the pastry edges together to seal them – the milk will help them stick together. Brush the tops of the pies with milk to glaze them. Stick a small knife in each pie to make a slit for steam to escape. Bake for 25–30 minutes until golden, risen and crisp. Let them cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.