Deer little mince pies

This seasonal gem from Jassy was so popular last year that we thought we’d better repeat it for Dabbler newbies. And next week we’ve got her extraordinary recipe that makes sprouts actually edible…

The Christmas tree is up, half the Advent calendar doors stand gaping and the presents are a mess of wrapping paper and Sellotape, but there is still time to make your own mincemeat and have it ready for Christmas Eve.

The trajectory of the mince pie story is not an entirely happy one. They have their origins in the sweet and spicy Middle Eastern dishes that the Crusaders brought back to England in the 13th century. Originally long, oblong pies, they became smaller and smaller, were briefly banned as Popery in a pie crust and eventually lost their meatier elements in the Victorian era.

There is still, in theory, suet lurking in amongst the dried fruit, but these days that’s often replaced with vegetable shortening and the rich depth of flavour you can only get from animal fat is abandoned in favour of the easy pleasure of sugar.

The traditional meats for mincemeat are mutton, goose and ox tongue, but I’ve opted for venison for the vision of wintry decadence it conjures up in my mind. Buy venison steak and chop it finely – into chunks about ¼ of the size of your littlest fingernail – and if you can get it, use fresh beef suet.

When it comes to turning the mincemeat into mince pies, use all butter puff pastry and let them rest for a few minutes before serving them. They’re good by themselves or spread with thick cream or brandy butter.

Venison mincemeat
Makes approximately 1kg

225g venison steak, finely chopped
100g beef suet, finely chopped
150g dark brown muscovado sugar
150g currants
150g raisins
200g Bramley apple, peeled, cored and coarsely grated
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
1/8 nutmeg, finely grated
100ml brandy

1 Sterilise your jar(s) either by putting them through the dishwasher (making sure they sit and steam at the end of the cycle) or by washing them in very hot soapy water, rinsing and then heating them in an oven at gas mark 3/160°C/fan oven 140°C. If your using jam jars, boil the lids and dry.

2 Mix all the mincemeat ingredients together in a very large bowl and then spoon into the warm sterilised jar(s). Seal and store in the fridge for at least a week. It will keep well for about a month.

To turn into mince pies, preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Roll out all butter puff pastry until it’s about as thick as a £1 coin and stamp out rounds using an 8cm cutter (a 375g pack of puff pastry will give you approximately 24 rounds). Line bun tins with half the rounds and fill with 2 tbsp mincemeat each. Brush the pastry edges with milk, cover with the remaining pastry rounds and press down to seal. Brush with milk to glaze and poke a small hole in the top of each pie. Bake for 25–30 minutes until risen and golden. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving warm.

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9 thoughts on “Deer little mince pies

    December 15, 2011 at 08:34

    I made these last year and they were a great hit. Super recipe.

      December 15, 2011 at 13:34

      Glad you enjoyed them!

    December 15, 2011 at 10:03

    They are lovely, I made them last year. This year I think I will add a little more venison.

      December 15, 2011 at 13:35

      Glad you liked them, too. And a little more venison wouldn’t hurt, would it?

      • Worm
        December 15, 2011 at 15:23

        well I imagine it might sting the deer a little

    December 15, 2011 at 12:07

    I would love to make these, are they sort of like a very tasty beef and ale pie? I am a bit scared of the fruit

      December 15, 2011 at 13:34

      They’re soft inside. They are actually just like a normal mince pie, except the meat add richness and a bit of savoury depth. Our forebears were onto something with the sweet/savoury meat pie combination.

    December 21, 2011 at 23:26

    I hate to sound stupid, but is this recipe cooked, or left raw in the jar until it is put in the “pasties”? Also, I’m looking to make a full sized pie 9″, how much should I use, at what temperature should I cook it, and for how long?

    Thank you for your time.

      December 23, 2011 at 16:38

      Hi Pan,

      Sorry – saw your comment a bit late. The mixture is raw. You just mix the mincemeat ingredients together and then store them somewhere cold until you’re ready to make the pies.

      I’ve never made a 9inch pie with the mix, so I’m afraid I can’t say how much you will need to use. You may want to add a bit more apple into the mix, as it could be a little rich served in large slices as opposed to small, individual pies. I would still use butter puff pastry for a large pie, though – it’s the perfect pastry for this mincemeat mix.

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