Ah, it’s that time of year again! Time to make a fresh batch of mincemeat to fill my homemade mince pies with throughout the festive season ahead. The word “mincemeat” is a throwback to Victorian times when these rich, spiced and fruited pies actually contained cubes of meat but now modern recipes shirk both the meat and frequently the suet as well so the only resemblance it has is in appearance, not content. But no matter, don’t let the name put you off – this Instant Pot Amaretto Mincemeat is sublime.
There are two main approaches to making mincemeat – you can simply stir up the ingredients and store in a sterile jar for a few months before filling your pies with it. Or, you can cook it. As I prefer my mincemeat very tender, I go for the cooked method. The application of heat not only softens the fruit but infuses it with the spices and alcohol you use. Traditional mincemeat often has chopped almonds added but as I am adverse to sharp, spiky bits, I leave them out and opt for a very healthy measure of Amaretto – that sweet, almond flavoured liqueur. It really does add a special something.
In years gone by, I have favoured a recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella which uses cider as the main alcohol component but I have fallen out of love with it.
There was something missing to me, so I got my thinking cap out and came up with the recipe below which I do in my Instant Pot. It takes longer to weigh out the ingredients than to cook and it is good to go straight away. It’s really important to make sure you stir it very, very well so there are no stray lumps of sugar on the bottom of the pan which could scorch and burn but apart from that, it’s pretty much foolproof.
When you take the lid off after 4 minutes of cooking, this Amaretto mincemeat doesn’t look much different but oh my – the aroma! Plus the Bramley apples deceive you as they don’t come out of the pot looking fully cooked but after a quick and none too onerous beating with a spoon, they disintegrate into a wonderful, fluffy goo which thickens the sugary juices wonderfully.
As a pressure cooker is a sealed cooking environment, you don’t get any evaporation until you open the valve and release the festive scents of sugar and spice. After beating it briefly, you will see just how much liquid has been released from the apples. A brief simmer on Sauté sorts it out and concentrates the flavour further. If only I could convert this mincemeat to a scented candle, I’m sure I’d be a millionaire!
I like to use a combination of Mixed Spice and Pumpkin Pie Spice in my mincemeat as I simply can’t choose which I prefer! I have recipes for both spice mixes so you can make your own but please do one or the other, if you prefer. Both me and Hungry Hubby are crazy for clementines so I zest and juice a few into the mix and you definitely want to use dark muscovado sugar for its treacly sumptuousness. Honestly, your mince pies made with this mincemeat will convert the most ardent of dried fruit haters this year, I promise x
A rich, fruity and boozy mincemeat which doesn't require to be stored for months or years for the flavours to mingle and mature (although stored properly in a sterilised jar, unopened, it can last for at least a year). The Instant Pot really does a superb job at producing perfect mincemeat. Your mince pies will be the talk of your workplace this year!
- 200 g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 large Bramley apples, peeled and finely diced (about 750g in weight before preparing)
- 50 g dried dates, chopped
- 700 g mixed dried fruit (I use a combination of sultanas, raisins, glacé cherries and dried cranberries)
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more mixed spice if you prefer)
- 100 g soft butter
- 2 clementines, zest and juice (use 3 if they are particularly small)
- 150 ml Amaretto
Put everything apart from the clementine juice and Amaretto into the instant pot.
Measure the Amaretto into a measuring jug. Zest the clementines then juice them into the jug too. Top up to 250ml with water (or more Amaretto if you are feeling extravagant!). Pour into the fruit mix.
Now, this is important - take your time to stir everything together so you can't see any dry sugar remaining and the mixture is well combined. Put the lid on, close the valve, set to Manual High for 4 Minutes then NPR when finished.
Remove the lid when the pressure has released (about 10 minutes) then beat with a spoon to break up the apples. There will be a lot of juice so turn on Sauté mode and stir constantly for 5 minutes until the mincemeat has thickened up and is no longer runny. Ladle into hot sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool dark cupboard when cold until needed and once opened, store in the refrigerator.
To sterilise glass jars:
Simply run them plus any rubber seals they may come with through the dishwasher on hot. Use whilst still warm and do not put your fingers inside the jars or you will desterilise them.
If you don't have a dishwasher, simply wash in very hot soapy water, rinse and dry in the oven on low (100-120˚C) until completely dry. Once again, use whilst still warm.
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