Mincemeat was always the Thanksgiving pie of choice at our house when I was a child, with pumpkin a distant second. Even back then the spicy-sweet goo had spun off its actual meat component, but apples, raisins, dates, and other dense fruits remained, as well as the customary splash of brandy or rum. Since then mincemeat has mostly been relegated to the misty realms of nostalgia. Except at Muirhead of Ringoes, an online ordering service that has bravely added mincemeat-and one featuring green tomatoes, no less-to its line of fruit butters, mustards, and other condiments.
With even more bravery (or gumption), Doris and Ed Simpson, who started Muirhead as a restaurant of the same name, in the same Hunterdon County town, and then segued into the ordering service, entered their green tomato mincemeat in the competition for outstanding new product at the Fancy Food Show last summer in New York. It finished as one of seven finalists in that category, in an overall "best of" competition that drew 3,500 entries. A few years ago Muirhead's pecan pumpkin butter was similarly honored and led to, among other things, shelf space at Williams-Sonoma stores.
It seems only fitting that a New Jersey company would make a mincemeat featuring tomatoes, green or otherwise. The Simpsons have posted nine recipes using their green tomato mincemeat ($5.90 for a 14-ounce jar) on their Web site, www.muirheadfoods.com. (Orders are also taken by phone, at (800) 782-7803). One recipe is for what might be the quintessential Thanksgiving pie, with a thin layer of mincemeat and a thick layer of pumpkin. The acid tang provided by the green tomatoes also makes the mincemeat good spooned over pork chops, directly from the jar. It makes fine cheesecake and bar cookies, too.