From the best of both worlds: When Traditional Hungarian Cuisine merges with Multicultural Canadian Home Cooking. Recipes from the best of Hungarian and Canadian home cooking - with recipes adapted to North American food sources - we have gone metric in Canada, but we won’t let go of our measuring cup
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HUNGARIAN RATATOUILLE - LECSÓ
This one turned out to be almost as good as Nagymama’s.
You need medium sized sweet yellow Hungarian wax peppers and fully ripe, sweet tomatoes to make authentic Hungarian lecsó. The Jim grows these with varied success, giving me a few weeks of lecsó making opportunity. Keep in mind that no Hungarian pepper grown in our Kamloops garden can come close to the peppers grown on Hungarian soil. Of course most North Americans don’t even know what Hungarian peppers look like, except for the tiny hot things they sell in the supermarket. But those aren’t Hungarian peppers. Moving onto the tomatoes, the sweetest of tomatoes, are the round vine ripened varieties. They cost a bit more, but their flavour is superior even when the rest of the tomatoes are in season. I have been trying to break through the availability barrier and to come up with a year around version of Hungarian lecsó, but that will be a different topic.
In terms of volume I tended to use 1/4 tomato to 3/4 pepper to balance out the acidity and to reduce the liquid in my lecsó. Onions give body to stews, so I thought I would increase the onions, because lecsó should not have soup like consistency. The recipe I used over the years called for half an onion. But since the onion is the one that binds the peppers and tomatoes together, I figured there should be more of it. An additional benefit is that onions bring natural sweetness to lecsó. So gradually I increased the onions I used. Now for every 6 medium Hungarian wax peppers and 6 medium tomatoes I use 2 fairly large onions. That's a lot of onions, but you need it. I also add Hungarian paprika to my lecsó, but only a couple of teaspoons. Lecsó is not about the paprika.
6 Hungarian wax peppers*
2 large onions,
2 cloves of garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
5 medium ripe tomatoes sliced
2 tsp Hungarian paprika
• Chop the peppers into strips.
• Chop the tomatoes, removing the green centers.
• Dice the onions into large bits, but don’t cut them too fine.
• Place 3 Tbsp olive oil in the pot on medium heat.
• Add the onions and garlic and sauté until onions are soft, but not brown.
• Reduce the heat and add the peppers.
• Add the salt and the pepper now.
• Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for a 3-5 minutes.
• Add the tomato and the Hungarian paprika.
• Simmer uncovered for 1-2 minutes.
• Serve with rustic white bread.
Yields: 2 servings
*In terms of flavour, the yellow bells are the closest to the Hungarian wax. The smallest they are the better, the big ones release too much liquid and they tend to finish up soggy.
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