Not to rub it in, but America has the best barbecue of all time … How Europe works to keep up.
Although generally considered an American tradition, barbecue is beginning to take Europe by storm — particularly the concept of slow cooking. Trendy restaurants applying slow-cooking methods are inspiring Brits to upgrade their barbecuing to include smoking. And restaurants offering smoked items are likely to have a line out the door even before they officially open.
Although there is now a demand for staples such as brisket and ribs, Londoners are struggling to find butchers who are able to properly cut meat for barbecuing purposes. Perhaps a testament to some of our prevalent problems in America, U.K. butchers are known to trim the cuts of meat requiring fat to be present for optimal flavor; for example, the thick fat atop a brisket actually is rather important because it partially renders during smoking and keeps the meat moist. This does offer an interesting bonus, however, as normally less desirable pieces of meat among Brits can now be smoked and enjoyed. Otherwise, they may have been thrown out.
In addition to an increasing presence on restaurant menus, the growing trend towards smoked meat can be attributed to “macho” television programming such as “Man vs. Food,” which place an emphasis on meat, and provides exposure to American barbecue styles. Additionally, some interest may be spurred by Europeans who visit the States and try the foods themselves.
Of course, Europeans have put their own twist on barbecue, adding fennel or lavender — spices rarely used in American barbecue — to the rubs, thereby making it their own.
Beyond the UK, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium have all begun to delve into the world of slow-cooked barbecue, purchasing the respective appliances needed, and even loading up their online shopping carts for BBQ Guru products to assist with their new cooking ventures.
A true validation of the increasing interest in barbecue is England’s Grillstock, a two-day grilling and music event. In 2013, there will actually be two separate festivals — Bristol in May and Manchester in June. The festival’s Facebook page is active year-round, amping up recent news as it is announced. From posting about new exhibitors to announcing a “sauce off” complete with online voting, Grillstock maintains the interest of its existing fans and, undoubtedly, generates new followers, too.
A one- or two-day ticket to the festival includes entry, access to music entertainment and food samples from some of the rounds of competition and the BBQ Academy master classes. Some foods to look forward to at Grillstock are the 18-hour pit-smoked brisket, as well as the natural, handmade hot dogs served with either pit-smoked pulled pork, smoked chili or barbecued beans –then topped with favorite Grillstock sauces and jalapeños.
This year, BBQ Guru will have a strong presence at Grillstock; Bob, Kenny, Jim and one other member of the BBQ Guru team will be competing in BBQ competitions, showcasing the BBQ Guru tools for demos, as well as teaching a BBQ Academy class. BBQ Guru has already garnered quite a following in Europe, with fans consistently reaching out regarding the availability of BBQ Guru products across the Atlantic.
Interestingly enough, the Grillstock Facebook page has acknowledged some of the challenges that Europeans craving authentic barbecue face, posting the question, “Help a BBQ brother out here folks – Anyone know a good butcher in South Wales that knows how to butcher a decent cut of Brisket?”
It would appear, my friends, that the barbecue bug has bitten the Brits.