I’m not an inveterate procrastinator,
but I do occasionally put things off —
the last of my Christmas shopping, for
example, which I fully intend to get to
Usually some deadline (Christmas)
eventually forces me to take action. But
there are things I keep at the back of
my mind that — when I finally get around
to reckoning with them — I’m shocked to
find I’ve put off for years.
Exhibit A: mincemeat pie. I first shared
a recipe for mincemeat pie (with meat!)
in this column three years ago. That’s
hard for me to believe, because I
haven’t made it since.
Not that I haven’t been meaning to. I
was pleasantly surprised by my first run
at this archaic classic: beef brisket
simmered with spices; melded with
sautéed apples, raisins and brandy; and
baked in a flaky crust.
My husband still requests it (a
“mincemeat-shaped hole in his life,” is
how I phrased his craving the first time
Yet for one reason or another, we’ve
gone 36 months mincemeat-free.
It’s time to bring mincemeat back. And
in case you, too, have postponed this
particular culinary adventure, I’m
reproducing the recipe below.
In homage to James Beard’s recipe “Our
Fabulously Good Mincemeat,” mine is
titled “My Surprisingly Good Mincemeat.”
Here’s what to do:
Simmer 3 pounds beef brisket in water to
cover with a few cloves, a slice of
fresh ginger, a 2-inch cinnamon stick, a
star anise and three or four
When the brisket is tender, remove it
from the broth, then cut away all fat
from the meat. Chop it finely by hand.
Reserve 1 quart of the broth, strained.
Meanwhile, soak 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2
cup golden raisins in 1/3 cup good
Peel, core and dice three apples. Sauté
in 2 tablespoons butter until soft. Add
the chopped meat, the raisins, and about
1 cup of the reserved broth; bring to a
Add 1/4 cup sugar; 1/4 cup brown sugar;
2 or 3 tablespoons of strawberry
preserves; the finely chopped zest and
juice of one orange; the finely chopped
zest of one lemon and the juice of half
of it; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1/2
teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg; salt and
freshly ground pepper to taste; and 1
tablespoon cognac or brandy.
Simmer for about an hour, adding more
broth as necessary. The apples should be
very soft and the flavors
well-integrated. Adjust the seasonings
to taste, adding more of anything —
salt, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, lemon
juice, cognac — as you see fit.
Stir 1 teaspoon of cornstarch into 1
tablespoon of the reserved broth, then
stir this into the mincemeat, and cook
When the mincemeat is done, stir in 1/2
cup toasted, chopped pecans.
To make a pie, spoon the mixture into a
partially baked pie crust. Bake until
the crust is golden and the filling very
hot. Serve it warm or at room
temperature with lots of freshly whipped