I made a fairly traditional mincemeat pie with beef and beef fat for Christmas this year after adapting a recipe from one of the first cookbooks published in the US, “American Cookery 2nd edition” by Amelia Simmons and published in 1796. The scanned pages of the complete cookbook are available to read online for free. Here’s the original recipe:
“Minced Pie O’ Beef
Four pounds boil’d beef, chopped fine and salted; six pounds of raw apple chopped, also, one pound beef suet, one quart wine or rich sweet cider, mace and cinnamon, of each one ounce, two pounds sugar, a nutmeg, two pounds raisins, bake in pastry no. 3 three fourths of an hour.”
I decreased the amounts to make it more manageable for one pie. I used grass fed ground beef I gently cooked in a frying pan rather than boiling a roast or sirloin and then chopping the meat. Next time I may run the cooked ground beef through my food processor or at least chop it finely with a knife before adding it to the pie filling for better texture.
I didn’t have a source for food grade suet and the grass fed beef tallow I had on hand was already rendered so I asked the butcher at my local grocery store for a pound of beef fat. He happily wrapped it up for me at no charge. It was more than I needed, but I was able to pick the best looking pieces for this recipe. I froze what I didn’t use for later. I partially froze the choice pieces of fat for 30 minutes in the freezer and then ran it through the grating disc on my food processor. It worked really well.
The recipe called for raisins, but I had access to other local fruits my mom dehydrated so I used a combination of raisins, dried cherries, and dried thundercloud plums (they’re small, dark red plums about cherry sized). I rehydrated the fruits in wine overnight in the refrigerator. They soaked up all the liquid and were nice and tender. I substituted stevia-erythritol blend for sugar and put both measurements in the recipe below. My biggest departure from the original recipe was the addition of orange zest. It gave the pie a nice, fresh flavor and cut through some of the richness of the beef, fat, and spices.
I made a chestnut flour hot water pastry for the crust with a combination of lard and butter. The recipe will be posted soon. Chestnuts have more starches than other nuts, but it’s flavorful, lovely to work with, and the most like wheat flour, minus the gluten.
I made 5 1/2″ pies rather than one 10″ pie and they turned out great. They’re probably the best looking grain free pies I’ve ever made. Bonus, they also tasted good. The beef and beef fat add texture, flavor, protein, and nutritents but not much savory flavors. It’s really more like a hardy apple pie with a few extra ingredients tossed in. I liked it so much that I can easily see myself making it again instead of apple pie.
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lbs apples, diced
1/2 cup beef suet, grated
1 cup red wine or sweet cider
1 1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)
1 1/2 tsp ground mace
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup stevia-erythritol blend)
1 cup dried raisins
Soak raisins in the wine for at least 4 hours. Boil or otherwise cook ground beef. Drain, add the salt, and chop the beef finely. Allow to cool. Combine the rest of the ingredients together and stir well. Pour it into a prepared pie crust and cover with a top crust. Bake until the filling bubbles and the apples and crust are cooked through. Best served slightly warm.