I don’t post many ‘people food’ recipes, but it’s that time of year when I step out and try new dishes, new techniques, new everything in the kitchen. This I had to share!
OK, so when I was growing up, mince meat pie use to be my favorite holiday pie, as in all time favorite, mill about the kitchen all day, watch the oven, stand there with a fork, looked forward to it all year kind of pie. That is UNTIL I found out that there was actually meat in it, and not fun meat that you sit down to eat, but suet. Suet is the hard fat around the loins and kidneys. Talk about a little girl being crushed and grossed out at the same time. The end of an era.
I nearly forgot about this pie until the other week when we were watching Christina Cook’s on the PBS Create Channel. She’s awesome, funny, and has some good advice on cooking vegan and vegetarian. I’m neither, I’m a hypocritical meat eater (I can eat it but I would never be able to kill an animal), but we eat even more whole foods, and cook a lot of vegetarian dishes. She had a ‘pie show’, all seasons, all types. And low and behold, a mince ‘meat free’ pie. It inspired me to give it a go. Her advice is always to ‘make it your own’. So I looked thru her ingredients, decided what sounded right to me and then made it my own with ingredients that made my taste buds dance just thinking about them, like the addition of citrus zest, ginger, alcohol, and way more spices. And then thinking about them in combination made my whole body dance… So here it is, The Tanner/Meuwissen version of a minced ‘meat free’ pie …
note – I found that alcohol is necessary. The aroma it creates is ridiculous on the senses and seems to be the binder for all of the flavors. Use your favorite rum and brandy, or what you have on hand. Mount Gay rum is my favorite. I’m not a brandy drinker so this is what my husband picked up at the store, it smells like the Holidays so it served it’s purpose. With the dried fruits try to stay away from pre packaged, and buy in bulk at your local co-op. If they are bright colored (especially the apricots) then they are chalked full of sulphates and preservatives. Think dull colors, better flavors! Also, this is just our version, it was pretty freaking amazing, but make it your own!
3 large green apples
1 C dried currants
1 C raisins
1 1/4 C dried cranberries
3/4 C dried apricots
1/2 C dates
1 C walnuts
1 C brown rice syrup
2 T molasses
2 T rum
2 T unsalted butter
2 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. finely ground ginger (we used more!)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. sea salt (we used a large pinch more)
double pie crust (recipe and instructions below)
zest the citrus and ginger, gather spices
gather liquids and butter
Chop, chop, chop – all of the dried fruit, apples, and walnuts. And then chop some more! Put into a large pan over medium low heat, add butter, liquids, spices, zest. Put a lid on the pan and let simmer, stirring frequently, for about 20-30 minutes (that really depends on how your liquids are reducing).
When everything is gooey, mushy, and the liquids have reduced, remove from heat and let cool on a plate, about 1 hour. NOTE – if it’s still a bit too chunky at this point, put mixture into a food processor and hit chop or blend. It should truly be a gooey mixture, this will help in it setting up just right!
While things are cooling, make your pie dough. I like a double crust, so here is my favorite, I’ve been using it for 18 years!
2 C flour
1 C almost frozen unsalted butter (the almost frozen part is important)
1 pinch sugar
1 pinch sea salt
Cut the butter in by hand until the mixture is in lima bean size chunks, DON”T OVER MIX.
Here is the secret. Ice water! dribble in the ice cold water while gently folding the flour/butter mixture. About 1/4 cup give or take. DON’T OVER MIX. The dough should be light, silky, and a bit crumbly but moist.
turn out on cool floured surface and break in half. Roll each half out separately. A great pie crust is marbled, and you can see little streaks of butter throughout.
Place one rolled out section of dough in the pie pan, the other cut into strips for lattice work.
Fill with cooled filling.
For the lattice, alternate strips just like you do for weaving.
Cut off excess dough around the edges so it is flush with the pan. Place in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees for about an hour, just keep your eye on the oven, light brown crust. If you use a convection oven, reduce the amount of time.
Remove and let cool for two hours or so. This will allow the pie to set up properly.
Serve with whipped cream, brandy sauce, or ice cream! I think it rocks with a cup of strong black coffee … for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Nancy! Happy Holiday Baking!