Makes five 9-inch pies
1 pt. apple cider
2 c. dry or medium sherry
2 T. lemon juice
3 c. brown sugar (light or dark—Dex used 2/3 dark, 1/3 light)
1 T. each of the following spices, ground: cinnamon, cloves, and mace
2 whole nutmegs, grated
1 t. each salt and ground black pepper
3 lb. raw ground beef, 85% lean
3 lb. red cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 c. dried currants (or substitute a 6 oz. package of dried sweetened cranberries)
6 oz. package SunmaidŇ Goldens and CherriesÔ dried fruit mix (golden raisins and dried cherries, about 1-1/2 c.)
1 c. raisins
6-8 oz. candied diced citron
6-8 oz. candied lemon peel
1-1/3 c. finely chopped or crushed pecan meats
˝ pt. (1 c.) brandy
Combine cider, sherry, and lemon juice in a large stock pot (at least 6 qt.) and bring to a boil. Add sugar and dry spices and seasonings, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Crumble the ground beef and stir it into the liquid, breaking up any large lumps of meat to create a uniform texture. Stir in all remaining ingredients except the brandy. Bring to a boil again, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 2-3 hours covered until all ingredients have melded, stirring frequently to prevent mincemeat from sticking to the bottom of the pot. If the mincemeat is too runny, remove cover and reduce liquid at a low boil (it will solidify somewhat as it cools). Cool to lukewarm and stir in brandy. Allot 3 c. per pie and store in tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator (for use within a month) or in the freezer.
Notes: The ratio of meat to apples may be adjusted to taste. The meat is not precooked because the fat in it substitutes for the suet in older recipes. The alcohol in the brandy acts as a preservative, allowing the mincemeat to be stored without freezing for a longer period of time. All alcohol is removed in the course of baking the pie.
To make a mincemeat pie: Make or purchase two circles of pie crust dough large enough for a 9-inch pie pan. Allow dough to warm to room temperature if necessary. Preheat oven to 450°. Lay the bottom crust in the pie pan, spoon in 5 c. of mincemeat, and cover with the second crust. Trim and seal the edges of the two crusts. Pierce or slash the top crust to vent steam. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes; reduce oven to 350° and bake an additional 30 minutes or until done. As with any fruit pie, place a cookie sheet or sheet of aluminum foil on the rack below the pie pan to catch drips.