- Food & Drink
Because I have no mercy on my guests, people who come to our house’s Christmas party next weekend will be subjected to mince pies made with beef mincemeat. Reactions to my plans have ranged from: ‘Ooooh, interesting,’ to ‘But there will be real mince pies, won’t there?’ There will be real mince pies and there will be Real Mince Pies and everyone will be made to eat both, because parties are not about fun they are about being polite to your hostess, even when she is forcing sugary meat pies on you.
This recipe is based on one taken from Mrs Beeton’s original 1859–1861 Book of Household Management. It’s not quite the same, because her recipe would have made about 7kg of mincemeat. I have a shrewd idea we won’t get through that much sugary meat in the next month, whatever my party plans.
I was able to get fresh suet from the brilliant Nevin’s Irish and Caribbean Butchers in Peckham. They were so astonished at the request, that they gave it to me for free (‘I can’t charge you for that, love’). Apparently no one else has come in to buy suet, which is a shame because it’s a great fat for baking or wrapping round roasts to keep them moist.
It comes as a white sheet of fat that just needs finely chopping before you stir it in. If you can astonish your butcher into giving you a fresh sheet of fat, do it. It’ll be much better than the dusty flour-and-suet granules that sit in supermarket baking sections, whatever you’re using it for.
Real mincemeat with beef
550g steak mince
300g caster sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
50g candied peel, chopped
1 crisp apple, such as a Granny Smith, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
1/2 nutmeg, grated
200g beef suet, finely chopped if bought fresh
2 Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into a jar and store somewhere cold. It doesn’t have to be the fridge, an uncentrally heated room will do. Mine is sat in our radiator-free utility room. Store it for at least a week to mature. It will keep for up to a month.