Recipe Box: What Is Mincemeat, Barbecue Sauce Recipes and More

We answer the burning question: what is mincemeat, as well as share barbecue sauce recipes and more from the recipe box.

| September/October 2013

  • Mincemeat recipes answer the question, what is mincemeat?
    Photo By Lori Dunn

Among the holiday treats from my childhood were cookies shaped in half moons, the sweet dough pressed around a dollop of mincemeat and puffed to a golden brown.

The cookies were favorites in our household; although for me, the appeal was probably more the pie crust dough than the sweet mincemeat inside. Mom used jarred mincemeat from the grocery store, and I don’t think I realized “real” mincemeat actually contained meat until I was grown and away from home. I have a feeling that had Mom used “real” mincemeat, those cookies would not hold such a place of fondness in my memory.

What is Mincemeat?

Minced meat started as a way to preserve meat, using sugar as the preservative. As a spiced meat pie, it was a medieval holiday tradition in England; the minced and preserved meat was loaded up with dried fruits and spices and was served as a main dish. Nowadays, the mixture is more fruit than meat, in particular, since dried fruit, spices and sugar became more readily available.

The beginnings of the mincemeat pie as a Christmas tradition probably started about the time the Crusaders began returning from the Holy Land in the 11th century. The warriors came bearing gifts of oriental spices — cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — and the pies were often shaped as cradles (or coffins) with a doll representing the Christ Child placed on top. Gradually the pies grew smaller, the shape became round, and the meat was reduced in favor of spices, sweeteners and dried fruit. The mixture was often steeped in brandy.

Over the years, the pie has become more sweet and less savory, but it remains popular at the holidays.


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