How To Host A Parrillada In Spain In 6 Easy Steps
It’s no surprise that we’ve hosted a parrillada in Spain, actually several since we moved here in 2015 from the United States. While there are generally no laws prohibiting a barbeque in Spain, there are some helpful things to know and we thought it would be a great idea to write a guide on how to host your own parrillada in Spain.
So whether you’re a Spaniard wanting to try something new, or a foreigner hoping to get a little taste of Spanish culture, read on for our tips on hosting the perfect parrillada in Spain.
#1 Choose Your Location Wisely for Your Parrillada in Spain
Another very important consideration is to find out the local restrictions due to the time of year and weather. For example, in the height of summer, some parks and areas will prohibit any kind of grilling if there is a high risk of fire. This can be influenced by things like drought and high winds.
Also, make sure that wherever you choose, there’s plenty of space for your guests to move around, and that there’s a good supply of wood or charcoal for the grill.
#2 Getting All the Food and Drinks You’ll Need
Once you’ve sorted out the location, it’s time to start thinking about the food and drink. This is a great way to experience the local culture here in Spain. Of course, what you get will vary depending on how many people you’re inviting and make sure to take into account any dietary restrictions.
Some essential items for any parrillada in Spain include:
- Meat (pork, chicken, beef) – It’s very popular to have chuletas de cerdo (pork chops).
- Sausages – Some traditional types of sausages in Spain are chorizo, longaniza, and morcilla (blood sausage).
- Seafood (prawns, squid) – One of the traditional seafood dishes in Spain is gambas (shrimp). It’s quite typical to have them at a parrillada and they can be grilled or boiled.
- Vegetables, such as potatoes, calabacín (zucchini), berenjena (eggplant), and pimientos (peppers).
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt, preferably a good quality, coarse sea salt
- Sauces (tomato, aioli, chimichurri)
- Drinks (wine, beer, soft drinks)
Living in Spain, we love going to the Mercado Central (central market) for locally sourced meats, seafood, and produce. And we especially value the weekly mercadillo de viernes (an outdoor market every Friday) that also has the latest fresh produce and artisan products.
Practically every city, town, and village in Spain has a central market, as well as a weekly outdoor market. Going to one of these for your shopping makes the experience even more authentic, but a regular grocery store works great as well.
READ MORE: Questions to Consider About Life in Spain
#3 Get the Grill Ready for Your Parrillada in Spain
Now it’s time to get the grill ready. If you’re using charcoal (called carbón here in Spain), you’ll need to start by lighting it and letting it burn until it turns white. This can take up to 30 minutes, so be patient!
Or, you may be fortunate enough to have an old-fashioned barbecoa to cook on. Yes, the word translates to barbeque, but it is also the name for the grill itself, especially the traditional ones shaped like a fireplace. These can use charcoal or wood (leña).
Once the charcoal (or leña) is ready, use a pair of tongs to arrange it into an even layer at the bottom of the grill. Then leave it to heat up for another 10 minutes or so.
If you’re using a gas grill, simply turn it on to the desired heat.
#4 Start Cooking!
Then it’s just a case of threading the meat and vegetables onto the skewers and cooking them to your liking. Remember to turn them regularly, and brush them with oil or sauce to keep them moist.
For those nostalgic moments, and to impress your Spanish friends, don’t forget to throw in southern oven fried chicken thighs for good measure.
#5 Don’t Forget the Sides
While the meat and vegetables are grilling, don’t forget about the tapas and sides!
For some great tapas, serve local goodies like cured manchego cheese and olives. To be very traditional, include some jamón ibérico with palitos, which are thin slices of cured Iberian pork leg and crunchy breadsticks. These are great to snack on with your drink while everything is cooking.
Potatoes are a classic accompaniment to any parrillada and can be served in a variety of ways. The most typical potato dish at a parrillada in Spain is an ensaladilla (potato salad). Or, it is also common to either roast potatoes in the oven or cook them on the grill. We’ve even found that the small potatoes here in Spain are slightly different and less starchy than those in the USA. They’re delicious.
Another great side dish to have are the small green peppers known as pimientos de padrón. If you’re on the Mediterranean like we are, it is typical to have a plate of gambas (shrimp), usually boiled and served chilled, or al ajillo, which is sauteed in olive oil and fresh garlic.
If you have a salad, make it truly Spanish by garnishing it with some tomatoes, tuna, shredded carrots and corn.
#6 Serve Everything Up and Enjoy Your Parrillada in Spain
Once everything is cooked, it’s time to start serving. Lay out all of the food on a large table. Make sure to include good extra virgin olive oil, Mediterranean salt, and of course, more wine and beer.
Then let your guests help themselves. The Spanish are very relaxed when it comes to food, so there’s no need to be too formal.
Now, all that’s left to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
After the meal, remember to sip on a local digestivo (digestive liquor). Throughout Spain, this can be a licor de hierbas (herbal liquor – and yes, it looks neon yellow) or a licor de limón or limoncello. Here in our region of Valencia, Mistela is a typical after dinner drink, which is made from the moscatel grape.
In true, Spanish fashion, your parrillada in Spain will probably last for hours and take up most of your day. Once you’ve hosted one, you are that much closer to truly experiencing the local culture.
Curious About Life in Spain?
Learn from our series about living in Spain as an expat.
Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego
Certified Travel Consultant & Writer
I love living in Denia, Spain and traveling worldwide. My idea of a great time is ‘eating and drinking’ my way around a new place and meeting the people. As a certified Travel Consultant, I specialize in custom travel planning for trips throughout Spain and Europe, as well as scouting trips for moving to the Costa Blanca area of Spain.