Interestingly enough, all the brandy on top was gone. The mixture itself looked like it had absorbed a lot of the liquid throughout -- it was thick and not as fluid in the jar. I took this to be a good sign for its "ripening" and poured more brandy over the top. I felt it was important to have a 1/4 to 1/2 inch layer of brandy to help avoid mold growth.
After a month had passed, it was time to try it in a pie. I kept it simple, as Mrs. Leslie suggested: "These pies are always made with covers, and should be eaten warm." (Here is her ebook: Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches.)
|Just two ingredients|
|Crust plus filling|
|With its top cover|
My ancient copy of "The Joy of Cooking" said to bake it at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook it for another 30 minutes. This was for a store-bought mincemeat filling. I wasn't certain if my filling needed significant cooking time but I guessed that at least the suet needed a chance to melt and make the filling rich. I really didn't want to take a bite of pie and get a mouthful of uncooked beef fat, even if it had been marinating in Madeira and brandy for a month!
I ended up cooking it for 35 minutes at 350. It probably could have gone a little longer to be more browned on top.
I estimate that I used about 3 cups of the filling in this pie. It looks like I could get another 5 to 6 pies out of what was left. This looks to be a fun holiday season.
|Hot out of the oven|
Other thoughts about it: This is definitely an "adult" dessert. The brandy was too strong for children, I think. Also, as Mrs. Leslie recommends, it is best warmed. When cold the flavors were harsh and the suet congealed. I really didn't like seeing cold bits of fat in my pie.
Mrs. Leslie leaves us with one more piece of her wisdom: "Whenever you take out any for use, pour some additional brandy into the jar before you cover it again, and add some more sugar." Done! I mixed in about 1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed the filling down to remove air bubbles, wiped the sides of the jar above the filling level, and poured in enough brandy to cover the top. Then I cleaned the outside of the jar well and put it back in the cabinet.