Mincemeat Pie with Cornmeal Crust

Mincemeat pie is a tradition that goes back to a time before there was refrigeration, when families had to learn how to preserve meat and fruit in other ways. The spices cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are linked with gifts given to baby Jesus, which linked the pie with Christmas, where it became a holiday staple. Over the years, the meat has been mostly replaced by beef suet, with fruits and sometimes alcohol providing the most flavor. This version of Mincemeat Pie is alcohol free, and features delicious fresh fruits and apple cider to give the pie highly textured flavors.

What You Need

2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and quartered

8 ounces golden raisins

6 ounces dark brown sugar

4 ounces dried figs, coarsely chopped

2 ounces dried cherries

2 ounces beef suet, coarsely chopped

1 -ounce crystallized ginger, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup brandy

1 orange, zested and juiced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground clove

Cornmeal crust (see recipe below)

Cornmeal Crust:

12 ounces all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting

2 1/2 ounces stone ground cornmeal

1 1/2 ounces sugar, plus extra for the crust

1 teaspoon table salt

8 ounces very cold unsalted butter

2 ounces apple cider or juice

2 ounces cold water

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water

Directions: Place all of the ingredients except the crust into the bowl of a food processor and pulse 8 to 10 times. The place the ingredients in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator for at least 3 days before using. The ingredients can actually be stored for up to 6 months, living up to their history as well preserved foods.

Some people prefer a finer texture of mincemeat. If you would rather have a less chunky mincemeat pie, place the apples, dried fruit and suet into a meat grinder with a large die and grind. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. If you do not have a good food processor, you can also finely chop the apples, dried fruit and suet by hand.

Cornmeal Crust:

To make a great cornmeal crust, place the flour, cornmeal, 1 and ½ ounces of sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Grate the cold butter on the large side of a box grater directly into the dry ingredients. Work together with your hands until the mixture is crumbly. Add the apple cider and water, then stir them together to combine. Knead the dough 5 to 6 times and spritz with additional water if the dough is dry. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

To bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unwrap the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Place 2 pieces of the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Roll each section of dough into a 1/8-inch thick round. Each round should be about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Spoon about ½ a cup of the mincemeat into the center of each round, and then fold the edges of the dough in order to form a crust all the way around. Next, brush the edges of the crust with egg wash. Sprinkle the crust lightly with sugar. Transfer the dough on the parchment to a half sheet pan. Place the finished product on the middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. The crust should be golden brown. Repeat with the remaining dough.

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