The Traditions of Mincemeat Pies: Historic Links, Sweet Tang
By MARCIA LANE
If this were medieval times and you were sitting down to a mincemeat pie, you’d be ready for a dish including pheasants, capons (male chickens, castrated), partridges, conies (European rabbits) and a couple of pigeons. Those were added in along with the fruit and spices that helped keep meat in the days before dependable refrigeration or preservatives.
They were a main course around Christmas. Known as Christmas pie, at one point they were molded in the shape of a manger with a small dough figure representing the baby Jesus on top.
Ah, what a difference six centuries makes.
These days you can expect raisins, spices and apples in a round pie shape.
Mincemeat (originally minced meat) pies are an old English Christmas tradition. In Oliver Cromwell’s time (the mid-1600s), after he kicked the king off the throne, he banned Christmas calling it a pagan holiday. Among the forbidden pleasures – mincemeat pie. When King Charles II got the throne back he put the pies, along with goose and plum pudding, back on the menu.
In the United States mincemeat used to be one of the traditional pies along with pumpkin and apple that were always made for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Maybe it’s the name but the mincemeat pie has almost slid off the table.
Which is a shame. Served warm, with a bit of ice cream or whipped topping or even a piece of cheddar, they’ll make you a convert.
You can make them from scratch or find a premade filling.
Warning: The filling has a way of disappearing off the grocery shelf quickly. Obviously not everyone has given up making them part of the holiday traditions.
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