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I was born and currently live in Barcelona. Here in Catalonia, or in Spain, beef is not butchered in the American style, so I can't get the cuts that are used for American BBQ.

So, after my search and speaking to many butchers, the final conclusion is that apparently, our cattle is very slim and the brisket part is too thin to use as U.S. or other briskets.

I finally found one place where they sell briskets. It is a very specialised shop with lots of rare meats. I ordered two briskets and I'm posting two pictures of each. The meat was just unpacked.

In these pictures I still had not touched or trimmed anything.

Meat 1a

Meat 1b

Meat 2a

Meat 2b

The two pieces of meat were apparently very different from what I had seen in videos and pictures. First I even thought it was not a brisket at all (now I'm about 90% confident it is). One of the pieces had almost no fat. There were several cuts, one really big. My general feeling was that both pieces were not treated properly.

Now I want to order another brisket from there and I'd like to ask them to give me a better product but I'm not sure if I'm right and the product could be better handled or if it is just my ignorance.

So, what should I ask them?

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    What's this meat's country of origin? European countries will have different beef cuts because they also have different cattle breeds, and that's something you should ask your butcher.
    – Luciano
    Nov 6, 2022 at 15:13
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    lifting this up from a comment on a deleted answer, as info - European beef is very different to American. usually grass-fed, better exercised & slaughtered younger. That gives a very thin, relatively low-fat brisket, completely unlike the American. It's usually rolled & tied here, it's not big enough to do the American slow BBQ thing, it's considered a pot roast here. That does look like an American brisket to me - but being a Brit, I'm far from expert on the matter. The British cut is also a slightly different area - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisket
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 6, 2022 at 17:15
  • Hi Albert, the question about identifying the cut is a good fit for the site. I removed some parts which were more of a rant leading up to the fact that cattle is handled differently in Spain than in the USA. This is actually what one would expect, so I think you should be able to get answers as-is, good luck!
    – rumtscho
    Nov 6, 2022 at 17:21
  • @Luciano They say the meat comes from Salamanca, Spain and is Black Angus pure breed, born in Ireland. Each piece was about 5.5kg (12 pounds)
    – Albert
    Nov 7, 2022 at 12:34
  • @rumtscho I'm not a big fan of edits, especially of this magnitude. You removed some context but ok, it is faster now to get to the point.
    – Albert
    Nov 7, 2022 at 12:42

2 Answers 2

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That looks like a pretty typical brisket to this American.

The tricky thing is that "brisket" means different things. I'll put aside that butcher cuts are different around the globe, and just speaking from an American perspective.

"Brisket" is both a large primal cut, made up of two smaller subprimal cuts that you would see trimmed and available at the grocery store or butcher shop.

The "brisket plate" is the trimmed cut most often sold in American grocery stores as just "brisket" and what many folks mentally associate with what brisket looks like.

What you have looks like a whole brisket primal, untrimmed.

So what should you ask your butcher?

I'm not a Texas BBQ expert, but I have bought and smoked large briskets, and I think your brisket looks similar to what I can buy if I want a brisket primal. It looks fine. You could direct your butcher to trim it a bit more, to get rid of some excess fat and various "dangly" small bits along the edges. But I personally prefer to do that myself, so I can keep the trimed pieces and eat it myself.

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  • Great! I think my visual reference was always what you called a "brisket plate" and this confused me a lot. You resolved my main concern and now I'm 100% sure this is indeed a brisket. However, my secondary concern is I still feel they should put better care in the product they serve. As you can see there is a huge cut in one of the pieces. And the fat layer of the two pieces is very inconsistent. I also prefer to trim it myself but the feeling is that they removed too much fat already. What do you think?
    – Albert
    Nov 7, 2022 at 12:27
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    A whole brisket primal is an oddly-shaped cut. It's not uncommon for it to look like a mitten. That's normal, and not bad trimming. I'll dig though some pictures on my phone and find a picture of a brisket primal I've bought and smoked ...
    – AMtwo
    Nov 7, 2022 at 13:49
  • You call it brisket, we call it Tri Tip . Tho it's probably only part of the brisket. Nov 8, 2022 at 0:48
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    @Hannover tri-tip & brisket are different cuts, (at least here in the US). Brisket comes from the chest, where tri-tip comes from the back half. barbecuefaq.com/tri-tip-vs-brisket
    – AMtwo
    Nov 8, 2022 at 2:20
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American butcher here. Started as a youth dressing out beeves with grandpa and uncles, studied meat processing as a vocational training in 11th and 12 grades (in the early 90's), and have worked doing individual animal for private clients using US/Canadian and Japanese dressing styles.

I have also a little time working commercial meat processing including grocery store meat counter, which includes reducing primes into retail cuts.

Which is a long way to say, I'm competent to say, "Those are fine quality brisket prime; not unusually trimmed or careless in handling from the appearance of the pictures."

The 'loose layering' is typical of brisket primes with fine meat and not over-thick extra-muscular fat.

At home you can trim it to more uniform dimensions in order to smoke or bbq more evenly, or leave it intact and get 'burnt ends' which some BBQ houses sell as a premium treat.

The brisket plate is the portion closest to your fingers on the underside as you are holding it. A quick trim along the long axis edge about 3cm in from the 'flap' cut and then trimming a little of the 'cap' os fat from the top will yield one quite large 'brisket' for bbq. That is commonly split across the grain into half or thirds for a 'corned beef' size brisket for retail grocery in the US, and is often pre-treated with nitrate salts for home users who dont want to wait for a long cure.

A couple of days to weeks curing in controlled humidity and temperature conditions; either as is or possibly dry rubbed with salt/sugar and spices can really maximize the umami available in this already tasty piece.

Can't wait to see pictures of the roast.

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