Beouf Bouilli*Fire Engine*Bully Beef
Written | Photographed | Food by NZINGHA for ZLounge Nouvelle Caribbean Cuisine
So, today I made this dish (one of my personal faves) which is a traditional 🌴Caribbean🌴 Style dish commonly known as “Corn Beef”🐮,”Bully Beef”🎯, or “Fire Engine”🚒 depending on which Caribbean Islander you’re speaking to.
As I was in the market this afternoon shopping for the ingredients I met a fellow Caribbean who was a taxi driver proudly displaying his Islands flag. He asked if I needed a ride with all my heavy bags. “What do you have in those bags gurl?” my reply “I’m making Bully Beef tonight.” he immediately wanted to give me a free ride for a plate of Bully Beef!!! “With white rice?” he asked. Next thing I knew 3 more islanders over hearing the conversation chimed in with their love for this dish!!! Something about it warms the Caribbean heart…simply yummi.
Lets be clear each household makes Bully Beef different but, I assure you it’s always good no matter which household or Island it’s coming from. This dish’s staple ingredients make the dish what it is. The base ingredients are a can of Corned Beef, White Onion, Tomato Paste or Tomato Ketchup and White Rice.
This dish is truly a Caribbean “go to” dish! For the life of me I don’t understand why it’s not served in any Caribbean Resturants menu! I know if it was officially on the menu it would be consistent order just like Curry Chicken , Goat , Oxtail or Jerk anything!
I was speaking to a friend while preparing for Hurricane Sandy she lived in Long Island during that time and lost power in her area (this occurrence is very common in the Caribbean so people know well how to deal with it). She said “I saw your post on Bully Beef and I laughed.” I said “Why did you laugh?” She said, “I laughed because my Mother was just in the kitchen cooking up some Bully Beef for the family. It reminds me of when we were kids! Seemed like anything bad that would happen, she’d always make Bully Beef to console us. And trust me we were alright after that!”
My Bully Beef recipe is really an Ode To, to a Puerto Rican Lady who took me in her home for the afternoon,when I was a little girl. You see, I was locked out of my house because I lost the house key!!! This was a big no-no!! To this day I don’t know how I lost that key but, I was in tears balling my eyes out on my front steps. This lady happened to be walking by. She saw me crying and asked me what happened.
I told her what had happened and that my Mum was at work and would not be home for hours. She calmly said ok, let’s call you Mother and let her know what happened. Well this was way before cell phones came out, we left a note on the door with the lady’s address and phone number just in case Mum would somehow come home early.
The Lady (Maria) was her name was so kind to me and she had one of her daughters with her so she took me to her house which was right on the corner of the block. We went straight to call my Mum, she answered and was relieved I called and was grateful to Maria. Maria assured her I was ok but still tearful and told Mum about her 3 daughters. She asked what time would she be picking me up. I was still a bit shaken even though her daughters were laughing and playing and trying to make me laugh as well.
Well, Maria asked all 4 of us to now com into the kitchen because we were going to eat. I thought to myself what am I doing here with strangers and when is my Mum coming for me. Maria I guess could read the look on my face. She told me what time my Mum was coming to get me and assured me she was coming for me.
I watched her closely, the girls were singing songs they’d made up and Maria was chopping Onions and Garlic throwing them into a pan. I could smell the goodness that was about to happen. I remember her Corned Beef was very simple Tomato Paste, Onion, Garlic, Black Pepper and Corned Beef. She served it with White Rice for all of us in a little white bowl.
At this point I’d stopped crying and even lost my suspicion. We all sat at the table to eat. I was very quiet and ate just a bit but it was delicious! Now this version I’ve created is my Ode to Miss Maria my Puerto Rican Angel, so I make it in what I believe to be Puerto Rican style using Sofrito and other seasonings yet mixed with a bit of traditional West Indian Pepper spice.
Oh to end the story Mum did come for me that evening. She found me playing Barbies with Maria’s daughters. I never saw Maria or her daughters again…the following week they had moved, moved to Puerto Rico with the rest of their family. But I never forgot Maria’s kindness to me or the Bully Beef she made to console me. Bless you Lady Maria…wherever you are!How To Make Bully Beef
Cooking Time 35 minutes, Makes 4-6 servings
2 cans of Libby’s Corned Beef
1 lb of Ground Sirloin
1 Yellow Onion. ( Diced)
3 cloves of Garlic (Minced)
1/2 Traffic Light Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow or Orange Diced)
1/2 cup of Pimento Stuffed Green Olives
1/2 cup of Cilantro
2 tbsp of Sofrito or Goya Recato (in the green bottle)
1 pkg of Sazon con Achote’
1 can of Tomato Paste
1 tsp of Scotch Bonnet Sauce (optional if you don’t like a little heat)
2 cups of Jasmine Rice
4 cups of Water
1) In a medium sized saucepan add your Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then add the Onion and Garlic on a low flame until the Onion becomes transparent.
2) Then to your saucepan add your Sofrito, Tomato Paste, Sazon, Salt & Pepper to taste. And continue to cook making a liquid Roux making sure it doesn’t dry out too much.
3) Then add in your Ground Sirloin. Cook down the Ground Sirloin till its nice and brown. Cook for about 20 min.
4) Then to your browned Ground Sirloin add your 2 cans of Corned Beef, breaking it up slightly (you kind want to leave it slightly chunky), continue to allow it to simmer for about 10 min then add your Olives and Scotch Bonnet Sauce (optional for the fearful).
5) In a separate pot make your Jasmine Rice adding a pinch of Sea Salt to the water.
6) Now after 30 minutes both your Rice and Bully Beef is ready to plate and serve.
Peace Be Your Journey…