Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mincemeat Pie, Bilbo's Pantry and Chaos... Total Chaos

Long time no write Dear Readers!  Babies are time sinks.  Delightfully so, but wow.
Here's a bit of chaos, and to my grief the last piece was eaten yesterday.

Amazing Mincemeat pie, with cheese.

The Challenge: 
1. Literary Foods  June 1 - June 14
Food is described in great detail in much of the literature of the past. Make a dish that has been mentioned in a work of literature, based on historical documentation about that food item.

I knew I was going to use The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein for this challenge, and while Dwarf Jelly was quite enticing, I had difficulty deciding which meat to substitute for Dwarf as that is harder to find than dragon these days.  When my husband requested chicken I knew this dish would not happen, just as it didn’t happen in the book. 

After tossing around the idea of making Beorn’s honey cakes, a sort of hard-tack; I threw it all away and went for Bofur’s mincemeat pie and cheese in honor of the FDA not banning artisanal cheesemakers from using wooden boards.  I purchased a nice aged sharp cheddar and some rye bread, several half-chickens (musn’t forget Gandalf’s cold chicken & pickles), and then everything to make mincemeat pies.  The grocery bill wasn’t pretty, but thankfully it’s a lot of pie filling and the rest is going towards our dish to pass at an event.

The Recipe:
From Buckeye Cookery 1877.  It is an American recipe, not an English one, though it shares many elements with the English versions. 

Mince Meat
Two bowls chopped apples, one of chopped meat, with one-fourth pound suet, grated rind and juice of one lemon, two tea-cups molasses, one large tea-spoon each of cinnamon and cloves, one nutmeg, one pound raisins, half pound currants, one-fourth pound citron cut fine, one quart cider, and sugar and salt to taste.--Mrs. J. R. Wilcox, New Haven, Connecticut.

My Interpretation of the original:
9-12 lg. Apples, chopped
1 lb. chopped meat, beef brisket or neck
¼ lb suet, frozen and grated (1/2 c. veggie suit or butter or lard)
1 lemon, grated & juiced
2 c. molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 grated nutmeg
1 lb raisins
½ lb currants
¼ lb citron cut fine (substituted diced lemon peel)
1 qt. Cider (4 cups)
Sugar to taste (1/4 c.)
Salt to taste (1 tsp)

Chop meat while frozen, as small as you can.
Put meat in a skillet on med-low heat and cook slowly until just brown.  Turn off & set aside.
Grate lemon, orange or other fruit rind.  Set aside.
Grate frozen suet & set aside.
Peel & chop apples until you have roughly 2x as many apples as there was raw meat.
In a large pot, combine all ingredients and simmer 30 minutes or more.
Pack away in jars or freeze in 2-4 c. amounts.
Let sit overnight for best flavor (refridgerated) before baking.
Bake in a double pie crust or tarts: 425F for 15 minutes, down to 350 for another 30 minutes.
Makes 2 pies & a large tart.

Date, Year & Region:
Buckeye Cookery was printed in 1877, and the recipe was adapted from  Mrs. J. R. Wilcox of  New Haven, Connecticut’s contribution.  The Hobbit came out in 1937.  I chose an older recipe because the “feel” of the people in the Shire is much more old-world.  I’d put them somewhere between the late 18th c. and rural 1870’s.  With all the ingredients this mincemeat has a lot of Hobbit Appeal. 

Time to Complete:
1.5 hrs of prep for the mincemeat filling (less if you use a food processor).
30 minutes of cooking the mix on the stove.
15 minutes to make the pie crust 
45 minutes to bake.

Total Cost:
$4 apples (had leftovers)
$5.75 cheese
$3.00 apple cider (1/2 left)
1.24 suet (a lot left, so can use for another recipe)
17.24 brisket (used 1 of 4 lbs)
unfortunately the specialty food store didn’t give me a receipt & the prices were not on the bags.  I believe it was $25 for everything.  I have some molasses left over.

How Successful was it?
My father says “excellent”
My husband says “it was good”
My mother says “it was delicious, yummy yummy yummy” (talking to grandkid)
I say “fabulous with the cheese; on the 2nd day it’s even better.”
My son did grabby-hands for more, but dislikes lemon peel & spit that out.

How Accurate is it?

Pretty accurate in terms of ingredients.  Substitutions were listed as suggestions in the instructions for a larger recipe; orange rind & lemon peel in place of citron, which would have been a 100 mile drive to obtain.  I was able to get everything else from the butcher (Grizzly Custom Cutting), a specialty food shop in the next town (Jane’s Pantry) & the local grocery store.
I did use modern equipment; gas stove, cutting board, bowls, etc., but cut everything by hand, which made the prep time longer.