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Chicken and Pepper Paella (Cheat Recipe)

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Adjust Servings:
4 Chicken Breast
3 Peppers Red, yellow or orange
2 Onion
3 Packets of ready made rice Choose whichever flavours you like - we usually stick to things like golden vegetable / chicken and sweetcorn / Mexican inspired flavours
Depends on the rice Water

Chicken and Pepper Paella (Cheat Recipe)

A cheat recipe for a tasty campfire paella

    • 35 Minutes
    • Serves 8
    • Medium




    This chicken paella dish is a staple on our Scout Summer Camp every year. The kids love it, they all eat it, it takes minutes to make but if we’re being completely honest, it’s not Paella. It’s a tasty chicken and pepper rice thing… Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    Sometimes on camp you just need an easy meal. I love getting Scouts to cook from scratch, playing with flavours, measuring and tasting but sometimes it’s just not practical. I’m thinking specifically of days when the weather has been rubbish. The programme has been particularly full that day and the kids (and Scouters) are wrecked and time is tight. That’s where this cheat meal comes in. I hadn’t even planned on sharing the recipe. I shared some photos online and people asked for it. I made no attempt to pass it off as authentic but people still wanted it knowing what it was. Then it dawned on me, Scout leaders everywhere, or anyone cooking outside for that matter, are the same as us and sometimes just need an easy dinner.

    The ‘cheating’ in this recipe comes in the form of the rice. We use the ones which are already flavoured and either need cooked with boiling water or the ones you’re supposed to tear the bag and microwave (see the photos below). Fry all the ingredients in your pan and then add the rice following the cooking instructions. Depending on the rice you choose, you’ll add a different amount of water.

    I do promise at some stage to do an authentic paella recipe. (Promise kept)

    I’ll let you in on a conversation I was part of this year on the Isle of Man at Summer Camp. First, I should explain that we have some Scouts in our troop with ties to Spain and one was a bit annoyed we had called this dinner, delicious as it was, “paella”.

    Spanish Scout – “This is NOT paella.”

    Scout 1 – “Why not?”

    Spanish Scout – “Where to begin!? It’s the wrong sort of rice for a start! It has to be made fresh!”

    Scout 1 – “Oh yeah? And I suppose for it to be really Spanish there has to be chorizo in it!”

    Spanish Scout (Smoke beginning to come out of his ears) – “No! You never put chorizo in paella. Ever!”

    We then had a short discussion on the pronounciation of the word ‘chorizo’, was it like ‘choritho’ or ‘choritso’? Finally, we all agreed that paella should never have chorizo (pronounced choritho) in it, should be made with vegetables or seafood, spanish rice, such as bomba or senia, and should be made fresh.

    This was when Scout 2 approached – “Awh yeah! I love chicken and choritso paello!”


    Spanish Scout to his lasting credit, calmly left the dining shelter before he completely lost his mind.

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    As with all campfire cooking, get the fire burning hot and get it down to embers. Get the kettle on, you'll need to wash your hands and you need hot water for the rice.


    Chop the onions and peppers up and set aside. Next slice up the chicken breasts and set aside as well. Be careful of anything which has touched raw chicken.


    Rub washing up liquid on the outside of your paella pan (big frying pan), this will help with washing up later. Add the oil to the pan and let it heat up.


    Add the chicken to the hot pan and let it cook. Don't move it about too much, you want a little bit of colour developing. When the chicken is browned a bit, take it out of the pan and fry your vegetables until the onions and peppers are soft.

    Wash anything chickeny at this stage - knives, chopping boards, hands, etc.


    Add the chicken back to the pan and add the rice you're using. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the packet.

    If you're using the microwave packs you'll be adding tablespoons of water and it'll only take a few minutes to heat through.

    Use a bit less water than the instructions call for, you can always add more later if it looks a little dry.

    If you're using the dried packets it'll be more like a litre of water for the 3 packets and it'll cook for more like 12-15 minutes


    Test the rice before serving. You want a little bite, not stuck in your teeth but also not mush. When you think it's ready, set it in the middle of the table (on something you don't mind getting black) and let people tuck in with a big spoon.

    Mark T

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