3¼ cups flour (2 tablespoons more later)
1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar (1 tablespoon more later)
1¼ cups butter, cubed
ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time, as necessary
2 tablespoons flour
INGREDIENTS – FINAL
1 28-ounce jar mincemeat
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
round pastry cutter, glass cup, or muffin tray
Makes 12 small pies. Takes 2 hours 30 minutes.
PREPARATION – DOUGH
Add 3¼ cups flour and confectioners’ sugar to large mixing bowl. Mix with whisk or fork until well blended. Use cold hands to fold butter and egg into flour. Add ice water 1 teaspoon at a time, if necessary, until dough starts to form a ball without being sticky. (Don’t over do it.) Cover pastry and let chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. (You might to re-roll the dough so you can make more circles.)
Dust flat surface with 2 tablespoons flour. Place about ¼ of the dough at a time on flat surface.. Leave the rest in the refrigerator until needed. (You really do want to work with cold dough.) Roll out dough until it is 1/6″ thick. Use round pastry cutter to make a large circle sufficiently wide to fill the bottom and side of muffin cups, about 5″ wide. Re-roll the dough as needed to make more circles.
Line muffin cups with 5″ dough circles. Now make 12 small circles wide enough to cover the top of the muffin, about 3″ wide. Use ¼ of the remaining dough, left over from making the 5″ circles, Leaving the rest in the refrigerator until needed.
PREPARATION – FINAL
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fill the pastry-lined muffin cups ¾ full with mincemeat. Cover with 3″ dough circles. These lids should overlap the mincemeat-filled pastry cups. (But not go over onto the rest of the muffin tin.) Gently push down on lid edges to form seals. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on wire racks then sprinkle mincemeat pies with 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar. Or serve right away. Zap any guest who doesn’t fully appreciate the care you took in making this dish.
1) Mincemeat pies don’t have mincemeat in them.
2) But way back in the 16th century, in Tudor times, they did.
3) Because meat was cheaper than fruit in those days. The meats of choice were: beef, venison, and lamb. There was even a Tudor poem about this.
Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep.
But where did they go?
Into a neighbor’s pie they weeped.
Ho, ho. Ho, ho. Ho, ho.
In real life, the next-door neighbor was usually a rapacious, unfettered lord, who supported King Henry VIII. So many sheep were stolen by the greedy nobility that the peasantry became increasingly disgruntled. It didn’t help that space aliens kidnaped the remaining sheep in 1535. Since the extraterrestrial sheep abductions occurred at night, no one saw them happen. The poor people naturally blamed the barons, lords, and earls.
A surly mob of peasants gathered at the Duke of York’s castle demanding the return of all their sheep. We are lucky to have the following exchange in writing as the historian John Haggis was just happened to be present. Here it is:
Surly Peasant Leader: We want our sheep back!
Duke of York: There are no sheep. I have no sheep. No one has sheep.
Surly Peasant 1: We don’t believe you.
Duke of York: I don’t care.
Surly Peasant 2: But how can we make mincemeat pies without sheep?
Duke of York: Eat mincemeat pie made from giraffes.
Surly Peasant Leader: C’mon lads, lets throw Duke Greedypants from off the castle walls.
They stormed the castle and they him down into the moat. This act precipitated a rather serious revolt with the rather mild title of The Pilgrimage of Grace. Eventually, King Henry VIII had this revolt put down.
But the king had seen the writing on the wall. King Henry proclaimed in The Great Ingredient Decree of 1538 that no matter the prevailing conditions of the realm, every peasant would had a right to find all she needed to make a proper mincemeat pie. Since, the sheep were all gone, pie makers switched to beef. Centuries later, the price of fruit began to fall compared to that of beef. So the beef in the pies began to be phased out in favor of dried fruits. Nowadays, mincemeat pies have no meat in them at all. Now you know. Oh, the sheep found their way back to Earth and England in 1567,
Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.