Making American BBQ in Barcelona

Making American BBQ in Barcelona

After living here for a couple years, I miss a good American BBQ. Don’t get me wrong, I love Spanish chorizo, butifarra, and other grilled meats (usually pork). Lately, though, I miss a good slow-cooked brisket or pastrami and good pulled pork. Over the past few months I have started trying to replicate those tastes of home, albeit without a smoker or grill, with varying degrees of success.

One of the big challenges I have had is finding the right cuts of meat. I started my BBQ journey here with pulled pork. The best substitute for a good Boston butt roast I’ve found is “cuello”, or neck. This seems to be half Boston butt and half leaner meat (maybe loin?), so it’s a decent substitute.

Finding the right beef cuts has been quite the adventure though. For example, I am making a brisket for a BBQ next week. I have bought brisket before, which I’m pretty sure is the equivalent of “pecho de ternera” here, but every time it is cut differently. When I unwrapped today’s installment, I got this:

Which opened up further to this:

Definitely not the briskets I’m used to (if it even is brisket)!

We’ll see how this one turns out, but I have had some success recently making pastrami and corned beef (not quite “BBQ”, but close enough for me). I cannot for the life of me find the right curing salt here, so it didn’t have the traditional pink color. Other than that, it was much better than any pastrami I have had at local cafes.

Missing the pinkness, but the flavor was pretty close
Finally, a decent pastrami sandwich!

I also tried my hand at bacon a few weeks ago. I can find good bacon here, but since I was making American meat I decided to give bacon a try. Luckily my butcher knows pork cuts better than beef so it wasn’t hard to get a good pork belly from her.

I followed Michael Ruhlman’s bacon recipe, and was quite happy with it. I think I’ll leave out the juniper next time, but I have no reason to buy bacon anymore now that I know how to make my own. It is missing the smoky flavor, but I’ll just add more smoked paprika to compensate.

Making American BBQ in Barcelona has definitely been an adventure. Some of my attempts have turned out pretty close to what I can find in the States, while others are pretty pathetic. If anyone has experience either buying cuts of meat for BBQ or making your own here in Spain, let me know!

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