Mince pies were traditionally made using a combination of minced meats, fruits and spices, the recipe was thought to be brought over from the middle east in the 13th century. New the minced meat is no longer used and they are made using dried fruit and spices however the name minced meat is still used.
I haven't be able to find them in Belgium so my desperation has led me to making them. I found a few different recipes some from Nigella Lawson's Christmas cookbook. but I couldn't find all the ingredients here, so I combined some of the recipes and added other thing where needed. Here is the recipe I ended up using for the mince meat.
125g dark sugar
500g cooking apples
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
120g dried cranberries
120g dried apricots
75g flacked almonds
120g dried cherries (I couldn't find them)
the rind and juice of 1/2 a lemon and an orange.
90ml of brandy, rum or I used cognac.
First simmer the chopped apples and the sugar in a bit of water and a splash of cognac for a few minutes then add all the other ingredients excepted the cognac, and cook on a gentle heat for 30 minutes. When it has softened with a lumpy texture let it cool a little and then add the rest of the cognac. Then ladle in to warm sterilised jars. The minced meat can be made at any time of year as its keeps like chutneys or relishes.
The recipe for the pastry will follow.