For decades I've been told
"Amy...there is no meat in mince meat pie..."
But I have never believed that and I'll tell you why. I have early memories of Thanksgiving time sitting in my livingroom in North Reading, Ma watching TV. The kitchen was to the right and on the counter right next to the TV was a contraption like this. Only the vision I see is ewwey-gooey suet with red, green & brown grossness squishing & squeezing out from those holes and plunking into a bowl beneath it.
If your memories were infected as a small child with the vision of that oozing out of a grinder while you are trying to watch Leave it to Beaver reruns, all in the name of mince pie - I'm sure you'd think twice about eating it too! Yuck! There was no way on this green earth that I was ever going to eat that mess, EVER! And 46 years later, I have never so much as had a bite. Now maybe that is "immature thinking", and maybe I do act a bit like a child scrunching up my face and feeling like I'm going to gag at the thought or sight of the mince meat pie - BUT so be it!
Despite my traumatizing memories no else on this planet seems to understand, I simply can't grasp the concept that "no meat is in mince meat pie", but yet my mother insists. Meanwhile I'm thinking 'It just doesn't make any sense! Of course there is meat in it! You just don't want me to know that, because I for sure will never EVER try a piece!" I might mention I also have an aversion to fruit & meat together in any way....if it's not a lemon - keep it the hell out of my meat. Definitely, not my thing. Sweetened meat is just weird...don't you people with those sweet teeth get enough without destroying meat? Anyway - I digress -
Ok, back to the question "Is there meat in mince meat?" According to my mother and her apparent recipe which I have never actually seen...No, there is not. Maybe in her defense, there truly is not meat in her recipe, and it is just fruits, dates & nuts or something like that, and my memory is skewed by the pure disgusting-ness of the vision. Whatev- still not trying it...
Recently, my quest for the truth began... and the internet has uncovered unequivocal proof that meat was in fact in mince pie! Thanks to the research of Peggy M. Baker, (no known relation & I am assume completely unbiased on the subject) Director & Librarian of the Pilgrim Society, and her essay THANKSGIVING "BY THE COOKBOOK" Festive Recipes from Historic Cookbooks I now have proof!
from: The American Frugal Housewife. By Mrs. Child. [No..not the famous Julia... :-) ]
Tenth edition. Boston: Carter & Hendee, 1832
Boil a tender, nice piece of beef -- any piece that is clear from sinews and gristle; boil it
till it is perfectly tender. When it is cold, chop it very fine, and be very careful to get out
every particle of bone and gristle. The suet is sweeter and better to boil half an hour or
more in the liquor the beef has been boiled in; but few people do this. Pare, core, and
chop the apples fine. If you use raisins, stone them. If you use currants, wash and dry
them at the fire. Two pounds of beef, after it is chopped; three quarters of a pound of
suet; one pound and a quarter of sugar; three pounds of apples; two pounds of currants,
or raisins. Put in a gill of brandy; lemon-brandy is better, if you have any prepared.
Make it quite moist with new cider. I should not think a quart would be too much; the
more moist the better, if it does not spill out into the oven. A very little pepper. If you use
corn meat, or tongue, for pies, it should be well soaked, and boiled very tender. If you
use fresh beef, salt is necessary in the seasoning. One ounce of cinnamon, one ounce
of cloves. Two nutmegs add to the pleasantness of the flavor; and a bit of sweet butter,
put upon the top of each pie, makes them rich, but these are not necessary. Baked
three quarters of an hour. If your apples are rather sweet, grate in a whole lemon.
And so....yet another Thanksgiving will pass without any effort at all on my part to try Mince Meat Pie, and I now consider myself completely off the hook, MUM!
Amylynne (Baker) Murphy