Monday, August 29, 2011

Lecso great on a hot day!

Today I decided on making a lecso.  This is a wonderful vegetable dish that is easy to make and can be made vegetarian also. It seems that many of the dishes here in Hungary use lecso in their menus.Whenever you see on a menu "Steak, Chicken, Fish etc  al la Hungarian way" ( magyar modra) it simply means that there will be lecso on the plate.
My girlfriend Gena , who is an amazing cook, made the lecso and then scrambled a couple of eggs in it and then stuffed chicken breast and baked it . I can  not tell you what an amazing low fat meal that was!

In Hungary there are fruit and vegetable stores almost on every corner. Everything is so fresh as for the most part it is all grown in Hungary.  As this is the season when peppers and tomatoes are at their peak , this is the perfect time to make lecso.


4 peppers, cut into long pieces, you can use green ,red and yellow  ones
3 tomatoes , skinned and quartered
3 -4 onions  quartered
3 garlic cloves smashed
1 tbls  of paprika powder
1 kolbasz cut up into circles
2-3 slices of smoked bacon cut up
if you are doing this vegetarian then ignore the meat and use oil to saute the onions.

I n Hungary I have found that all the vegetables and fruit have a taste. I think it makes a huge difference that they do not have to travel many miles to get to a store to be sold. Local produce is good for the economy and for our health . Just compare if you can .  I have noticed that here the women and men who cook always make dishes with whatever is in season. They rarely use out of season produce .If they need tomatoes in winter then they use what they have canned from the summer. But you would not see a restaurant having a tomato salad during the winter months. They would have marinated pickles , cabbage etc.

So to start the lecso ,apart from the vegetables ,you will need the meat . If you want this vegetarian ignore the meat and continue the same recipe using olive oil . You need a kolbasz which is a delicious piece of spiced sausage that has been dried . There are many types , I like to use the 'peasant' type which is not spicy hot as my husband does not like hot foods.  My husband is a Hungarian and probably the only Hungarian who does not like or eat anything that is hot!  I on the other hand love anything hot so I always have the hot sauce near by for me and our quests. But sometimes I have to add the 'heat' as otherwise the recipe would not be the same..... ok back to the recipe....

The kolbasz is made with ground meat and lots of paprika and spices. It can eaten with bread or used in cooking to give an amazing flavor to whatever you cook , whether it be soup or pasta even .  The other ingredient is a smoked bacon. This will give it a wonderful smoky taste.

So we first cut up the smoked bacon and fry it until it has released the fat and is slightly crisp.

 To this we add the onions and garlic and saute them until shiny . This is all on medium heat. Now we remove this from the heat and add the paprika powder , stirring until everything is coated and then add 1/3 cup water and put back on the stove.

 Now we add all the other ingredients , turn the heat to medium low , cover but leave a little breathing space, and let this cook for about 1 hour , stirring a few times but not too much as you do not want this to become mush. Do not let this boil just simmer and then the vegetables will stay nice.
Once it is finished it should like like this . As you see nothing is mushy .But the vegetables are not crisp they are just soft .
 So once everything is soft , taste and add a bit of salt . You actually do not even need the salt as the kolbasz and bacon will given an amazing taste.

There are so many ways to eat this . With bread ,especially if you have added a lot of kolbasz, you can add a scrambled egg to this and make it a meal.  This is also used as a base to saute chicken breast in . That is my favorite way.
Chicken breast and lecso
Just have some lecso  that you made the day before and then slice the chicken breast in half so that it becomes a thinner piece. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the pieces and quickly fry in a pan with olive oil  just so that the outside is slightly golden. Then add the lecso on top of this stir , cover and on low heat cook until the chicken is done ( around 20 minuets). This with rice or dumplings is wonderful and so easy.
Another very popular dish is using the lecso with tenderloin  or fish .

So this is  a recipe for lecso the way I make it , but it seems that every person has their own special lecso recipe. This one works for me.
After cooking, a good cold beer will go well with this on a very hot day.


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