A recipe for the pie filling dated 1615 says that the best meat should be cut from a leg of mutton and then add suet, salt and pepper, cloves, mace, currants, raisins, prunes, dates and orange peel. It is then not too far a step to the sweet mince pies we know - filled with dried mixed fruit, sugar, butter, brandy, nutmeg, cinnamon and mixed spice. Of course, there are now many variations of the mince pie recipe with additions of sloe gin, apples, almonds and nuts.
I know many like to eat mince pies at room temperature, but I love mine heated with ice cream. I will be trying my hardest to keep up the tradition of eating a Christmas mince pie daily for the twelve days of Christmas - it is supposed to bring you luck for the coming year. Other mince pie traditions are not to cut the pies for fear of bad luck, and to make a wish when you eat the first one of the festive season - I think I can manage that. Thanks to those medieval crusaders who inspired the first Christmas mince pies - yum!