Christmas is coming; the goose is getting fat. Whilst I love a holiday as much as the next ex pat, I’ve found it a tad more tricky to get into the spirit since moving to Oz. It’s the heat. Christmas is the highlight of Winter. Christmas and Summer are not a natural fit to my northern hemisphere brain.
Part of the joys of Christmas for me are the rituals, and the slow build of anticipation as the end of December approaches. There’s the change of the seasons, the first nip of frost, the smell of pine trees, the smoke from the log fires, you get the picture. The food rituals are equally important of course; preparing for the descent of the entire family needs a bit of aforethought.
This year we have friends from the home country visiting, so I’m pushing out the boat a bit, and the start of this is the Making of Mincemeat.
It’s incredibly easy to do, but unfortunately pretty expensive. Lots of ingredients. Why do currants cost so much?? Is it a supply and demand thing? There was an unseemly rush for the last 2 small bags in Coles, and I was, thank god, triumphant.
It’s the first time I’ve made mincemeat since I’ve been over here, without my handy supplies of Atora veggie suet, and I haven’t been able to find a supply of suet in the supermarkets apart from the pre packs of dumpling mix. Not the same. It dawned on me that I was going to have to make my own. I approached the local butcher and came out with a bag of not very promising looking beef suet – basically the fat from around the internal organs. I gathered it wasn’t a request they get too often, so I suppose this is another of those rapidly being lost arts.
Doesn’t look too promising, does it? Anyway, I cut away any red, meaty looking bits, and as much of the connective tissue I could (all the while wondering what the heck this meaty stuff was going to taste like in a mince pie):
- 500g Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
- 230g suet
- 230g each of currants, sultanas, mixed peel
- 350g raisins
- 350g dark brown sugar
- 50g chopped nuts (almonds or walnuts)
- 50g glace cherries, chopped small
- 1 1/2 tablespoons mixed spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 100ml cognac or brandy
- 2 oranges, 2 lemons
Quarter the apples and chop in a food processor until quite small but not liquidised. Turn into a large bowl. Remove the zest from the citrus fruit and juice them, and add to the bowl, along with all the other ingredients apart from the booze, stirring thoroughly after you add each one. Already smells good – right?
Cover, and stick in the fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to cook it, pop it into a oven proof dish, cover with a lid or foil and into an oven at 110°C for about 3 hours. Remove and allow to cool. Give it a good stir while it’s cooling. There will be a lot of fat – this is not a health food!! – but that’s as it should be. It doesn’t look fabulous at this stage, but the smell is unbelievably good! It’s everything about Christmas – spicy, warm and sweet.
Sterilise 8x lb jars and lids. Fill with the mincemeat and cover tightly. It should keep for months in a cool, dark place.
It looks and smells absolutely amazing, and there isn’t even the faintest hint of meatiness about it. Of course.
Feed your geese this stuff, and they would indeed, become fat.