This week something unusual has happened. I prepared a dish posted by a blogger a long time ago only to see the same person post one of my recipes two days afterwards. I talk of course about Zsuzsa (Zsuzsa is in the kitchen) who has made a real piece of art (see it here) out of my Poppy Seed and Chocolate Cake recipe and moreover called her post “Birthday Cake for Sissi”. (I felt as if it was my second birthday this year…). Zsuzsa had no idea that two days before I had prepared the famous Hungarian pepper stew (lecsó), following her recipe. I haven’t told her of course because I wanted to make a small surprise, so here it is: Zsuzsa’s extraordinary, genuine Hungarian lecsó.
Of course this is another dish I prepared using the peppers brought by my friend from Hungary (I have used some of them in Hungarian Stuffed Peppers) and I hope this “detail” made my lecsó even more Hungarian. In case you have never heard about it, lecsó (pronounced letcho) is a big Hungarian classic. Just like stuffed pepper it calls for long light yellow sweet peppers with thin skin. Lecsó is usually served either with sausage (according to my Hungarian friend the best ones are the smoked, but not dried sausages, such as Hungarian, Polish or German) or with beaten eggs which are incorporated into the lecsó at the end. It is also often cooked together with rice, but I wanted to have it with some crunchy baguette and fried sausage, so I have skipped the rice. Lecsó can also be an excellent side dish served with meat or fish.
I haven’t really modified Zsuzsa’s recipe, but slightly changed the amounts. I found it simply perfect, especially the addition of garlic which doesn’t always figure in other Hungarian recipes. This lecsó is light and low-fat (just like Stuffed Peppers) and proves that Hungarian cuisine doesn’t have to be heavy and greasy (I know some people think this). Make sure you cook more than you think you’ll eat because the smell and the taste are so irresistible, second helpings have absolutely to be included in your estimates. Thank you, Zsuzsa, for this amazing recipe.
TIPS: Zsuzsa doesn’t peel the tomatoes and I couldn’t decide whether I should peel them or not (I usually do when cooking tomatoes). Finally I peeled half of the tomatoes, but next time I will not peel them at all. The skin adds more flavour. I know that some people have problems with tomatoes skin, so if you are one of these, peel all the tomatoes.
If you want your lecsó hot, add some hot chili powder (see below). Otherwise you can use only sweet paprika.
Preparation: around 1 hour
Ingredients (serves 2, with second or third helpings):
6 medium tomatoes
6 long yellow peppers
2 long red peppers
4 tablespoons oil (I used duck fat instead)
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoon sweet paprika (I have put 1 tablespoon hot paprika and 2 tablespoons sweet paprika)
(300-400g smoked sausages (sliced) or 4 beaten eggs)
Peel the garlic and chop it finely.
(If you want to peel the tomatoes, put them in boiling water for a minute. Take them out with a slotted spoon and put into cold water. Peel them.) Chop the tomatoes roughly.
Core the peppers, remove the stalks and cut them into slices.
Chop the onion and fry it in fat until soft and translucent.
Remove from the heat, add the remaining ingredients.
Simmer covered until the peppers are soft, checking if you need to add more water.
If you want to serve it with sausages, I strongly advise frying or grilling them before. Then slicing them. It gives much more taste to the lecsó. Add the sausage slices, cook for 10 more minutes and serve.
If you want to serve it with eggs, beat the eggs in a bowl and simply pour them into the pan with lecsó, stir a bit and serve when the eggs are set.