Simple campfire paella

When a paella is prepared for a large number of people and done on the campfire, as in this recipe, using yellow food coloring is more convenient than using saffron. Other ingredients can be added: squid, shrimp, mussels, clams, rabbit, peas or fresh baby broad beans. Substitute water with suitable broth for extra flavor.


1⁄2 c cooking oil
1 chicken (cut into small pieces)
3 lb pork (pork ribs, cut into small pieces)
4 tomato (peeled, seeds removed, and finely chopped)
3 bell pepper (green, seeds removed, diced)
3 c rice (dry measure)
6 c water
  saffron (or yellow food coloring)


Heat oil in a large paella pan and add chicken pieces and cook in the pan for 3-4 minutes turning the chicken occasionally to prevent over-browning.

Add chopped tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add diced green pepper and stir. Stirring prevents overcooking.

Add pork ribs. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Stir occasionally. When the tomato is almost reduced to sauce and the meat has browned is time for the next step.

Add the rice. It is easy to double or triple the recipe, as long as the ingredients and liquid fit in the pan. Simply measure the rice with a cup and add twice the volume of liquid than the volume of rice.

Sprinkle yellow coloring powder over the rice. If using saffron, use mortar and pestle to crush the strands, add a little water and pour the saffron-water mix over the rice.

Add liquid, stir briefly to mix and leave to cook. If you stir the cooking rice, the grains break liberating starch and the rice becomes sticky.

Simmer uncovered for 15-18 minutes. The liquid is absorbed gradually.

When all the liquid has been absorbed, the paella is ready. Recommended: cover and let it stand for 8-10 minutes.

Total time
45 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
12 servings


Ideally, use a paella pan. If you don't have it, a large pan will do.

To be sure the pork ribs will be thoroughly cooked, you can boil the ribs in water with a little salt and use the liquid for the rice instead of water.

For a more flavourful sofrito and a paella with even more taste, add 1 large onion, finely chopped, shortly after adding the diced pepper and 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 2 minutes before adding the rice.

If using, small clams or mussels can be added directly to the pan or steamed beforehand; if this is the case, mix this liquid with the water to cook the rice. Estimate 1/2 lb of each.

If using shrimp, peeled and de-veined, boil briefly the heads in water and use the drained liquid to cook the rice, adding water as required. Estimate 1/2 to 1 lb of shrimp.

Add 1 can cooked peas after adding the rice if you long for more vegetables.

Garnish with strips of roasted red pepper, if wished, just before the rice finishes cooking.

Saffron gives a better flavor, but yellow food coloring will do the trick.


Spanish cuisine

rice, simmer, moderate
main course, food for a crowd
Spanish food recipes
Food in Europe