LAST WEEK I gave you a recipe for Mincemeat so that you can make your own Christmas Mincemeat Pies or give jars of Mincemeat as a Christmas gift. This week I would like to look at how Mincemeat can be used beyond the traditional Mincemeat Pie.
Firstly, it is worth establishing how you best like your Christmas Mincemeat Pies, as there are many variants on the theme by adjusting the pastry casing. You can have Shortcrust Pastry as the base and the top, you can have a Shortcrust base with a Puff Pastry top and then there's a Puff Pastry Top and Bottom. So that's three variations for starters and everyone has their own preference. You can also do imaginative ideas with the tops themselves, for instance using a lattice cutter so that the Mincemeat peeks through, especially attractive if slightly 'snowed' with Icing Sugar. Other takes on the decorative approach is to cut out stars, holly leaves, snowflakes and other Christmas icons. Shortcrust pastry gives the best results for this style of pie as the pastry does not rise and contort, as it sometimes can.
For the more adventurous of you there are three other ideas I would like to put your way, the first is to use small Puff Pastry Vol-au-Vent cases, which are easily bought and are a great way to be able to offer up 'Mincemeat Pies' when guests turn up unexpectedly. Just open the pack up, take the pastry 'lid' out from inside the pastry case, and put a couple of teaspoons inside and the top back on. Heat through in an oven (never a microwave as that is the equivalent of steaming your pastry) – once warmed just sprinkle some Icing Sugar on top using a tea strainer before serving on a platter. They will go down a treat!
Another different method is to buy a pack of flat Filo Pastry or 'Brik' Pastry and make small Mincemeat Parcels (the same as you might make Haggis Parcels!) as in the photograph. You just cut out a large circle of the pastry sheet, place some mincemeat in the middle and scrunch it together at the top, and heat through.
The same pastry can also be used to make triangles so you have Mincemeat Samozas. The directions for making a Samoza are normally on the pack, but you simply cut a two or three inch wide strip of pastry, place a dollop of Mincemeat at the end and then fold it as a triangle, then over itself again a couple of more times so that the Mincemeat is sealed inside. Trim, heat through and serve.
Finally, it is possible to buy sweet (or savoury) mini tartlet shells in good supermarkets, and these too can be a useful 'life saver' for surprise soirees, just fill up with Mincemeat and serve open without needing a top. So long as the Mincemeat is heated through in its casing in an oven the fat that binds the fruit and contains flavours will melt and the casing be warm to touch.
However you make them, wash the down with a nice mulled wine or a wee dram (hubby prefers a WhiskyMac) and what could be better as you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Home Alone"?