Corning beef for an Irish feast – Pt. 1

This meal has been coming together for over a year now.  Last February, I received my March 2009 Martha Stewart Living magazine and there was a recipe for curing your own corned beef.  I have never had corned beef, so it seemed like a good experiment.  The ingredient list was rather straight forward except for one small item… pink curing salt.  Being that this is an Irish dish, I thought who better to know where to find this ingredient than Irish people living in Sofia.  So, I got on the horn to all the lads and lassies that I could find and nothing!  Next idea, since it is also used for sausage making, I decided to call Andy the sausage guy in Sofia… again… nothing.  Then out of desperation, I called my Mom to see if she could find some in the US and mail it to be… she found something… but it was pink Hawaiian salt… so… nothing! I ended up ordering a pound (450g) over the internet and had it sent to my Mom’s house. At this point in the game it is April and my thoughts are focused on next year.

March 2010, I am armed with my pink curing salt and spice, now all I need is a brisket.  Simple, I will hop over to Metro and buy some beef… problem… how do you say flat-end beef brisket in Bulgarian?  Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t know either, so being the logical and dedicated person that I am, I printed out a beef cut diagram in English and took it to Piccadilly in Sofia.  They have a beef diagram there in Bulgarian and I figured I would just match it up and voila… instant translation… wrong again.  The guy behind the counter was pointing to various sections of the diagram without any sense of confidence.  Another guy jointed him and knew that what I was looking for was not on the diagram, but called телешка плешка (част на гърдата).  They did have this cut of beef at Piccadilly, but it was cut into small pieces and I needed 5 lb. (2.5 kg).  I decided that there were plenty of other shops that might carry exactly what I wanted.

Next stop, Elemag in Lozenetz.  They tend to carry Argentinean beef fairly frequently, but alas, no brisket.  Then I headed to Real Food (off Blvd. Cherni Vrah), which I’ve heard is the new hot spot for beef (I will be blogging about this place in the future), but they were out of beef till April.  Then I tried Metro in Sofia and while they carry the cut I was looking for, they didn’t have it when I was there, so I bought some beef shoulder (телешки шол).  I was quite frustrated at this point, especially after wasting a large part of my weekend scouring Sofia for beef brisket.

I had some beef and I was now ready to prepare my brine and wait for the results two weeks later.  If you couldn’t already tell, this will be a belated St. Patrick’s Day feast!

Mise en place in place
Crushing the spices!
Adding the elusive pink curing salts!
The crushed spices with the salt mixture.
After it cools, pouring on top of the meat, which is in a non-reactive container.

The beef should be ready next weekend.  Interesting side note.  I was at Kaufland in Kyustendil on St. Patty’s Day to buy some meat for my Irish Stout Stew and they freaking had 2.2 lb. (1 kg) brisket!  Murphy’s Law

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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria

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