Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hungarian Lecso

Lecso (there is supposed to be a little tick leaning to the right over the "o" but I don't know how to do that)  is a Hungarian peasant dish that I grew up with.  My parents came from Hungary and come August when the sweet yellow Hungarian or banana peppers start coming this dish was on the stove.  It is quick and easy:  30 minutes tops.  Flavorful and quite versatile as different ingredients can be switched up.  For example, it can be vegetarian or with sausage.  Traditionally the Hungarian sweet banana peppers are used but I have made it mixed with other sweet peppers too, such as purple, yellow bell or red bell.  We like it with HOT banana peppers added but that can switched with cayenne pepper if you don't have access to those or if you don't like heat just skip that altogether.  You can use whatever sausage you want.  I grew up with my mom using a ring of Ukrainian sausage but when I made it for my son the other week I used what I had:  smokies!  And it was delicious.   My mom always served it over rice, but noodles would work too, or it can be used as a topping for pork chops or as a vegetable side.  Our family traditionally used the egg but that makes some Hungarians twitch, depending on the region of Hungary they originally came from.  LOL.  So many options.

Now the secret to Lesco is not making a stew out of it.  The way you do this is to stir fry the peppers just until they collapse and add the tomato at the very end and cook down just enough to take the raw tomato taste away and produce a small amount of sauce, a minute at most.  You don't want it too liquid (which is what happens when you cook the tomatoes down too much) and you don't want the peppers boiling and stewing in the tomatoes making them bitter.   A bit of liquid in the bottom of the pan is what you are going for, you don't want the peppers swimming in it.  Add the salt in the end so that it doesn't draw more liquid from the peppers.  It may sound too complicated & intimidating but it really isn't.  Once you get down to making it you realize just how easy it is.


-1 kg (2 lbs) sweet banana peppers (or combination of sweet peppers)
-1 or 2 hot banana peppers OR   1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
-3 Tbsp cooking oil
-1 large onion, diced
-1 ring of sausage of choice or equal amount of smokies (approx. 450 gr or 1/2 lb.), sliced**
-2 tsp. paprika
-2 large ripe beefsteak or other tomato, cut in chunks
-1/2 - 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
-1 egg, beaten (optional)**

Wash the peppers and dry them well.  Slice the stem off and dig out the seeds and membrane.  Slice into rings or long slices.  (I prefer the long slices).    **Note:  if you are using the hot banana peppers wash hands immediately and do not rub your eyes or near your nose!  Also wash your cutting board.

Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat and add onion.   Also add sausage if using.  Cook until onion is transluscent and sausage has a bit of brown on it.  Add paprika (and cayenne if using) and peppers.  Stir fry just until the peppers collapse.  If too much liquid is being released, turn up the heat a little bit.  You are wanting to basically stir fry, not stew.

Once peppers collapse, add cut up tomato and salt (and beaten egg if using).  Stir gently until tomato heats through and turns mushy and egg thickens the sauce... about a minute.

Serve over or beside hot rice, noodles or even toast.

**If using as a topping over pork chops (or are wanting a vegetarian or vegan dish) omit the egg and sausage.

1 comment:

ellen b said...

Sounds delicious!