Hungarian Lecso (properly spelled lecsó and pronounced leh choh) is the food the heart of Hungary is made of. During my years in Hungary I don’t think I ever met anyone that didn’t know how to make lecso. It’s the thing that is in every household, so common that you wouldn’t see it in restaurants because everyone can just throw some together at home, no?
Lecso can be eaten at any time of day. It can be a main dish for a simple lunch or dinner, but is also commonly eaten during breakfast. My Hungarian mother-in-law beats a couple of eggs and scrambles them along with lecso and serves it with a big chunk of fresh bread. To me, lecso tastes of Hungarian summer mornings. Of lake Balaton and hot, lazy days.
The main three ingredients for Hungarian lecso are onions, hungarian wax peppers and tomatoes. Everything else is kind of optional.
If, like me, you’re having trouble finding Hungarian wax peppers, you can substitute them for bell peppers, ideally red, yellow, orange or a combination of them.
Most traditional Hungarian recipes call for lard or rendered duck fat. For a rich, authentic flavor I recommend cooking it with lard. If the word lard still rings bells of clogged arteries and heart disease to you, then you might be surprised to learn about the benefits of cooking with lard. If you live in the Woodlands you’ll find Wholefoods just started stocking Tendergrass Farms organic lard. You can also get some here.
This recipe is gluten-free and paleo and can be made vegan.
I know it seems awkward to suggest this recipe to be vegan, especially if you watched the video below, which asks for bacon, lard and sausage (lol!). But my Hungarian mother-in-law makes this vegan, honest to heart. In fact many Budapest city dwellers cook this just with oil and the three veggies. The lard and sausage variant is considered the “country folk” version.
So here it is! You can also check out my 30 second video recipe down below – you’ll see how easy it is to make!
- 2 medium onion, diced or cut into strips
- 4 bell peppers, cut into strips or half strips
- 4-5 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 slice bacon, diced
- 2 teaspoons lard (I get my organic lard here)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1-4 bratswurth or sausage links (optional)
- In a big pan over medium heat, cook bacon and lard for a minute or two. Add onions and cook until translucent.
- Turn the heat off and/or remove the pan from the heat. Add paprika and stir well. It's important to do this off the heat as paprika burns easily.
- Add tomatoes, peppers and salt and return to the heat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 25-30 minutes.
- Add sausage and cover again, simmering for 10 minutes.
- Now, I like to thicken the lecso by uncovering and simmering for an additional 15 minutes or so until the tomatoes have lost most of the liquid. (But some people like it runnier to sop bread on!)
This is my first attempt at a Tasty-like recipe video! I spent HOURS on premiere trying to figure it out. Now that I’ve got it down, I’m hoping to share a new recipe every Tuesday. So see you here next week for Tribute Tuesday!
And here it is! Hungarian Lecso in 30 seconds: