Mincemeat was originally a medieval (England) sweet, spicy mixture of chopped (minced) lean meat (usually beef, or beef tongue), suet and fruit. It was generally served as an entree.
Gradually the meat content was reduced, and today the mixture contains nuts, dried fruit (raisins, apples, pears, citrus peel, etc.), beef suet, spices and brandy or rum, but no beef. Mincemeat is used primarily in pies and tarts.
Mince pies date back to medieval times and possibly long before. They are descended from a huge pie baked on Christmas Eve containing chopped beef, suet, nuts, spices and fruit of which whole dried plums were an important constituent.
The pie was originally baked open but as time wore on a crust was added, on top of which a pastry effigy of the infant Jesus was laid to represent him lying in his cradle.
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