I grew up in this house. There were cows wandering the first floor when my parents bought it in 1955 shortly after I was born. My father had adventures and tetanus shots ripping off the decrepit front porch and flipping the huge old floorboards over to hide the damage from the livestock. The house was built in 1770 – or thereabouts and had been updated last around 1800. He did extensive renovations before my grandmother would allow my mother to move in with the new baby.
The Institute Cookbook’s recipe for mincemeat “has remained unchanged for quite some time”. The book dates from 1800 and the editor is prone to understatement so I imagine a cook in my childhood home might have made it the same way in 1770. My father told me once that his grandmother made mincemeat with woodchuck, but he too was prone to understatement and I would keep to the “lean beef” mentioned in the recipe, myself.
1 lb suet, 2 lbs lean beef, 1 quart chopped apple
1/4 C candied orange peel and 1/4 C candied lemon peel, 1/2 lb citron, 3 C seeded raisins and 1 C currants
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon and one orange
1/2 C molasses, 1 C sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice and cloves, 1 nutmeg, grated (about 1 tsp)
2 1/2 C sweet cider (as opposed to hard cider)
Let the meat simmer slowly in a covered kettle until tender (insert my father’s story about sampling the meat cooking on the back of the stove, finding it fairly lean and good, and then being told it was ‘chuck). Run the meat and then the suet through a meat chopper and mix well. Add the other ingredients, chopping the peels and citron before adding. Put in a stone (ceramic) crock and let stand several days to ripen. Bake in a plain or half puff paste double crust pie.
I should add that I’ve had vegetarian versions made with beets and dried apples instead of meat and suet – not the same, but not bad.