On 25 December 1662, Samuel Pepys described his Christmas feast: “A mess of brave plum-porridge and a roasted pullet for dinner, and I sent for a mince pie abroad, my wife not being well to make any herself yet.”
Pepys was clearly a fan. It is true that in the 17th century, the filling contained real meat. A recipe book written in 1609 by an Oxfordshire aristocrat called Elinor Fettiplace gives us some idea. “Filling was made of equal parts of minced cooked mutton, beef suet, currants and raisins with ginger, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange rind, salt and a tiny quantity of sugar.”
I think I’ll be sending abroad to the supermarket for mine!