There are so many reasons to have a Spanish barbecue. The main one is that Spanish weather beats every other kind of weather in the whole of the rest of Europe. Of course unfortunately, Spanish sunshine isn’t available in the shops. Yet all the other components of a great Spanish barbecue are – like the delicious meat based dishes, not to mention the amazing wine which is also a product of all that Spanish sunshine. That means you really can have a delicious barbecue after all. Even if you have to move it inside halfway through due to Mach 3 gales.
How to Prepare the Perfect Spanish BBQ in 3 Steps:
As mentioned, thanks to our Mediterranean climate, we spend a lot of time eating outside. That means we Spanish know a thing or two about holding a good barbecue, and we can boil it down to three tasty steps:
1. The Vermouth
The true drink of the summer barbecue isn’t Pimms or…madre mia…lager and lime. It’s Vermouth! (That’s Vermut if you want to try one of the premium Spanish brands). It’s a wonderful herby concoction, which at 15 – 22% is capable of putting guests in a delightfully chilled frame of mind ahead of the main feast. It’s also a wine that you’re allowed to ice cubes in without anyone getting sniffy about it. Add a slice of orange, and you’ve got summer in a glass.
If you’re new to Vermouth, here’s a quick overview of this very tasty tipple in ‘Origin and Preparation of the Vermouth’.
2. The Meat
Spain is a country of bullfighting, vast plains filled with sheep (and grapes) – surrounded by fish. If you want a decent meat dish, look to Spain. Vegetarians may want to look away. The classic, of course, is paella, but not the sacrilegious version which Jamie Oliver served up. (Google #PaellaGate to see everything that went wrong with his recipe). No. Real paella is made with calamari, shrimp and mussels. But there’s so much more to Spanish barbecue than just paella, such as ribs with a sherry glaze. Or try steaks with some Valeón cheese. Then there’s pork burgers made the Spanish way with pepper and Jamón serrano. Locate a good delicatessen, and stock up on as much quality Spanish produce that’s escaped the country.
3. The Wine
Then there’s the wine. With Vermut aperitifs downed, and the meat making delicious smells over the glowing charcoal, it’s time to pop a few wine corks. Thankfully, barbecued meat is one of the easiest foods to match. Cooking with smoke calls for wine aged with oak. Chewy meats like lamb, beef and pork will need red, tannic wine to deliciously break down the proteins, and fatty, fried dishes like paella will need more acidic wine. Of course, seafood like shrimp and calamari will tend to go with white wine created in coastal regions. To recap:
- For barbecued lamb or beef, try a Gran Reserva Rioja like Faustino I. It has the oak to match the smoke, and the tannin to take on the protein.
- Pork will need something with a more intense flavour, like a lovely old vines Garnacha. Baltasar Gracián Old Vines Garnacha is just the ticket. Those old vines produce much less juice, with a greater concentration of flavour, giving a burst of cherry on the palette, and a slightly balsamic aroma that just screams ‘match me with pork!’.
- With fried seafood (as in authentic paella), try La Marimorena. It’s a light, acidic white, and when young, it has a refreshing spritz of bubbles that further cuts through fish oils. The typical taste of Albariño is of peaches too. That makes an interesting change from the ubiquitous use of lemon with fish.