With classical French training he's also pretty nifty with a rolling pin, so it's no surprise that his recipe for that Christmas classic; mince pies, is an absolute winner.
I admit I was a little fearful of using suet as he suggests but honestly it does make a (positive) difference and gives the pies a beautiful richness. Our butcher sent me home with a chunk of the stuff, which I hadn't previously realised is grated beef kidney...er...anyway, as I said, the end result is worth any misgivings you might have about using this ingredient. And of course it wouldn't be the end of the world if you left it out all together.
Michael Manners' Mince PiesRich shortcrust pastry
225gm plain flour
pinch of salt
1 tbspn caster sugar
1 egg yolk
about 25ml cold water
225 dark soft browm sugar
175 apple, peeled and finely chopped
100 mixed candied peel
100g beef suet, finely grated (I used a microplane)
75 coarsely chopped walnuts
100 dark rum finely grated
rind of 1 orange & 1 lemon
15g mixed spice pince grated nutmeg
30 ml lemon juice
For the mincemeat, mix all the ingredients well, then place in sealed jars and store in a cool place. This mixture will keep for up to a year and ideally needs a couple of weeks to mature.
For the pastry, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles a coarse sand. Turn out to a bench and work into a dough. Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry until about 3mm thick and line patty tins. Place back in the fridge to rest for another half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Fill pie tins 3/4 full with mincemeat. Cut out pastry tops and dip both sides in milk. Press gently on to the filled bases and make a small hole in the top of each pie. Bake for 25 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar before serving.
Note - this mincemeat recipe makes enough for three batches of 24 pies. You could halve it if you like or keep the extra for fruit cakes.