Lecsó looks faintly like the French ratatouille, however the main ingredients of this typical Hungarian summer one-course meal are pepper, tomato and onion. There are countless versions of lecsó, everyone has their own recipe for making the perfect lecsó. It can give rise to serious disputes how to chop onion and slice peppers, whether onion should be fried in rendered lard, oil or bacon fat, peel or not to peel the tomatoes.
Anyway, one thing remains certain that it’s impossible to make tasty lecsó from watery peppers and tomatoes grown in greenhouse. You definitely have to wait until the sun ripens the vegetables to obtain the best and most aromatic base materials. If you can’t buy wax peppers, yellow bell peppers will do, as they are the closest to the Hungarian wax peppers in terms of flavour. The smallest are the best, as they don’t release so much liquid during cooking.
- 2 large onions
- 500 g (~1 lb) ripe tomato
- 500 g (~1 lb) Hungarian wax pepper
- 100 g (~1/2 cup) rice
- 200 g (~7 oz) smoked sausage (it can be omited)
- 1 tbsp. rendered lard
- 2 tsp. salt
- 200 ml (~1 cup) water
Put the rice in a strainer and rinse it.
Peel the tomatoes by dropping them into boiling water. Wait until their skins start to split, scoop them out from the water and let them cool before you remove the skins.
Chop the tomatoes, removing the green center.
Core, seed and slice the wax peppers.
Dice the onions.
Put the lard in a pot on medium heat.
Add the onions and sauté until onions are soft and “glassy”, not brown.
Add the sliced peppers, tomatoes and the rice.
Pour in the water and simmer, stirring occasionally.
Slice the sausage and add to the lecsó when the rice is half-cooked.
Simmer until the rice is completely cooked.
Serve with white bread.