Remembering Don Pie (Mincemeat)
On November 29, 2018, my best friend’s father, Don Beebe, passed away. Don, whom I have known since I was 11 years old, was just two weeks shy of his 88th birthday.
Don introduced me to mincemeat pie as a child, something he baked every holiday season. So, with an extra helping of nostalgia, I wrote this recipe while remembering Don this year while doing my Christmas baking.
First, a word on mincemeat. Mincemeat is a mix of fruits, spices, brandy or rum, and sometimes incorporates meat (beef, venison, lamb, suet, etc.) English recipes dating back as far as the 15th century feature versions of mincemeat (which originally always contained meat as an ingredient). It is heavily influenced by the flavors of cinnamon, clove, ginger and citrus, yielding a hearty, sweet and tart filling that would lend itself well to being accompanied by meat, if you enjoy sweet with your meat.
My recipe does not have meat or suet in it and uses only butter as a fat. It is nonetheless rich, and bursting with holiday flavors. It’s best with a healthy pour of brandy or rum (I prefer a dark Cruzan rum) in the filling and served with a high quality vanilla ice cream.
- Unbaked crust for a 2-crust pie (I strongly recommend making your own pie crust)
- 7 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4"-12" cubes. (Use a tart cooking apple such as Granny Smith or McIntosh. Honeycrisps will also work.)
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup currants
- 1 cup sultana raisins
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Grated zest and juice from 1 orange
- Grated zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup dark Cruzan rum
- 1 egg white, beaten, for glazing crust
- Coarse ground sugar
Place all ingredients except rum the rum and about 1/2 c. of the cider in large, Dutch oven set over medium-low heat. Bring to boil and simmer on low, until mixture thickens and darkens in color, about 3 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more cider as necessary to prevent the bottom from burning.
Continue cooking until the filling seems like a chunky apple butter and then add the last 1/2 cup of apple cider and the rum. Cook until liquid in the kettle is thickened. Remove from heat and cool the mixture.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9" deep dish pie plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out the second piece of dough to a 12-inch circle. Spoon the filling into pie shell and cover with the second piece of dough. Finish edges as desired and cut 5 slits in dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place it in freezer for 10 minutes.
Brush top crust with egg white and sprinkle with sugar (1-2 tablespoons).
Bake until crust is light golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees; continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, about 35-40 minutes. Make sure to check the pie every 15 minutes or so to ensure that the crust is not getting too dark. If it is, be sure to use a pie shield to keep it from over-browning or burning.
Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving.