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What Are The Ingredients For Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat pie is an uncommon dish in American cuisine, which can create some confusion among cooks, even those on the staff of Allrecipes. While discussing this classic Christmas dish, a group of us realized we weren’t sure if it was a traditional ground beef filling in reality contains meat, and thus began my immersion in the history of the pie. After a brief interview with a British food historian, and a two-hour round trip to a rural library to pick up a copy The Encyclopedia of Christmas by William D. Crump, I’ve finally learned the story of this mysterious pastry.

According to The Encyclopedia of ChristmasMince pie, also commonly called mince pie or Christmas pie, originated in medieval England. After knights returning from the crusades returned with spices in tow, they became common ingredients of the dish along with bits of minced meat (from a range of animals), lard, apples, sugar, raisins and molasses. “They were about 30 to 50 percent meat at the end of the Tudor era,” says food historian Annie Gray, Ph.D. “And the meat content slowly declined over the next 300 years, part of a larger process of distinguishing sweet from savory and delineating which foods were in which course of meals”.

Minced Meat Pies
New images – Oliver Edwards / Getty Images

“They’ve also gotten smaller: Tudor cakes used to be big, to share, but dal [18th century] they were individual,” says Gray.

Mince pies weren’t just great pastries in the Tudor period, they also played a part in the history of one of England’s most historic monasteries.

During the reign of Henry VIII, he began phasing out Catholic estates and taking possession of them with the Dissolution of the Monasteries that began in 1536. Richard Whiting, the abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, tried to curb the king’s greed by secretly sending him a pie of minced meat containing shares hidden in many of the more expensive properties of the abbey. Some of these deeds were stolen by Whiting’s servant, Thomas Horner, who is immortalized for his deed in the nursery rhyme “Little Jack Horner”. Despite Whiting’s attempt to save it, Glastonbury Abbey was subsequently seized by Henry and, according to The Last Abbot of Glastonbury and other essays by Francis Aidan Gasquet — Whiting and two of his priests were hanged for treason.

Ghosts from a Christmas cake illustration
This illustration by Dan Beard, titled Ghosts from a Christmas Pie, appeared in the December 18, 1888 issue of Harper’s Young People. It was meant to be a warning about the ill effects of eating too much mince pie on children.
Harper’s Youth

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the mince pie went beyond just a festive treat and offered significant symbolism as well. Around Christmas it was popular to bake an elaborate cake that had a similar dough to the infant Jesus and included spices and sweets as representatives of the gifts of visiting Magi. This practice was often associated with Roman Catholicism, which prompted Puritans – both in England and in the American colonies – to ban ground beef pie due to its idolatrous nature.

“At the end of [19th century] it was quite rare to find real meat [mincemeat]although obviously the suet was beef,” Gray says. “Fully vegetarian ground beef pies had to wait until vegetarian suet was invented,” which would materialize around the turn of the 20th century thanks to the invention of Crisco, the world’s first plant-based solid fat.

Today, mince pie has significantly less religious and political implications in our society than in the past. Nowadays, it’s easy to find ground beef pies still made with beef suet and a small amount of ground beef (usually beef). Vegetarian ground beef pies are also readily available, especially if you buy a prepackaged jar of ground beef filling. If you’re interested in trying this history-steeped pastry, try baking both the meat and vegetarian versions to find out which you like best. An easy place to start is with our recipes listed below.


Meaty ground beef pie recipes

  • Old-fashioned ground beef pie
  • Minced meat pie with brandy butter
  • Minced meat pie filling with blue ribbon


Vegetarian mince pie recipes

  • Homemade Mince Pie with crumbly topping
  • Meatless mince pie
  • Orange Mini Mince Pies


Mincemeat pie is an uncommon dish in American cuisine, which can create some confusion among cooks, even those on the staff of Allrecipes. While discussing this classic Christmas dish, a group of us realized we weren’t sure if it was a traditional ground beef filling in reality contains meat, and thus began my immersion in the history of the pie. After a brief interview with a British food historian, and a two-hour round trip to a rural library to pick up a copy The Encyclopedia of Christmas by William D. Crump, I’ve finally learned the story of this mysterious pastry.

According to The Encyclopedia of ChristmasMince pie, also commonly called mince pie or Christmas pie, originated in medieval England. After knights returning from the crusades returned with spices in tow, they became common ingredients of the dish along with bits of minced meat (from a range of animals), lard, apples, sugar, raisins and molasses. “They were about 30 to 50 percent meat at the end of the Tudor era,” says food historian Annie Gray, Ph.D. “And the meat content slowly declined over the next 300 years, part of a larger process of distinguishing sweet from savory and delineating which foods were in which course of meals”.

Minced Meat Pies
New images – Oliver Edwards / Getty Images

“They’ve also gotten smaller: Tudor cakes used to be big, to share, but dal [18th century] they were individual,” says Gray.

Mince pies weren’t just great pastries in the Tudor period, they also played a part in the history of one of England’s most historic monasteries.

During the reign of Henry VIII, he began phasing out Catholic estates and taking possession of them with the Dissolution of the Monasteries that began in 1536. Richard Whiting, the abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, tried to curb the king’s greed by secretly sending him a pie of minced meat containing shares hidden in many of the more expensive properties of the abbey. Some of these deeds were stolen by Whiting’s servant, Thomas Horner, who is immortalized for his deed in the nursery rhyme “Little Jack Horner”. Despite Whiting’s attempt to save it, Glastonbury Abbey was subsequently seized by Henry and, according to The Last Abbot of Glastonbury and other essays by Francis Aidan Gasquet — Whiting and two of his priests were hanged for treason.

Ghosts from a Christmas cake illustration
This illustration by Dan Beard, titled Ghosts from a Christmas Pie, appeared in the December 18, 1888 issue of Harper’s Young People. It was meant to be a warning about the ill effects of eating too much mince pie on children.
Harper’s Youth

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the mince pie went beyond just a festive treat and offered significant symbolism as well. Around Christmas it was popular to bake an elaborate cake that had a similar dough to the infant Jesus and included spices and sweets as representatives of the gifts of visiting Magi. This practice was often associated with Roman Catholicism, which prompted Puritans – both in England and in the American colonies – to ban ground beef pie due to its idolatrous nature.

“At the end of [19th century] it was quite rare to find real meat [mincemeat]although obviously the suet was beef,” Gray says. “Fully vegetarian ground beef pies had to wait until vegetarian suet was invented,” which would materialize around the turn of the 20th century thanks to the invention of Crisco, the world’s first plant-based solid fat.

Today, mince pie has significantly less religious and political implications in our society than in the past. Nowadays, it’s easy to find ground beef pies still made with beef suet and a small amount of ground beef (usually beef). Vegetarian ground beef pies are also readily available, especially if you buy a prepackaged jar of ground beef filling. If you’re interested in trying this history-steeped pastry, try baking both the meat and vegetarian versions to find out which you like best. An easy place to start is with our recipes listed below.


Meaty ground beef pie recipes

  • Old-fashioned ground beef pie
  • Minced meat pie with brandy butter
  • Minced meat pie filling with blue ribbon


Vegetarian mince pie recipes

  • Homemade Mince Pie with crumbly topping
  • Meatless mince pie
  • Orange Mini Mince Pies


Video about What Are The Ingredients For Mincemeat Pie

How to Make Classic Mincemeat Pie | Smart Cookie | Allrecipes.com

The perfect dessert to enjoy while watching the Great British Bake Off! Apples, spices, candied fruits baked in a flakey crust. Get the recipe for Classic Mincemeat Pie: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/270543/mincemeat-pie-with-brandy-butter/

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