A big bowl of comforting summer happiness
Isn't it interesting how strongly we are linking certain foods to memories? Lecsó (to pronounce: lecho) was one of my favourite summer dish. Both my mother and my grandmother made awesome lecsó. Even my father and my grandfather were very good in making lecsó. I loved it for breakfast, for lunch, or for dinner. When there was tomato and pepper season we were seriously abusing this simple yet super delicious summer dish. From a few ingredients a beautiful carnival of colours and flavours was created.
There are so many varieties of lecsó, but the base of all are just down to four ingredients: animal fat (lard or salo), onions, tomatoes and peppers. First render the fat from a good piece of smoked pork fat (szalonna), then fry the onion slices until the edges turn slightly brownish. Next add the pepper slices and the chopped tomatoes. Finally gently simmer, stew until the ingredients are infuse each other, and turn soft but still hold shape. To the base you can add slices of sausage (Frankfurter or kolbász), diced potatoes, rice, eggs (beaten eggs are added near the end), tarhonya (egg barley), or even sour cream can also be added in the last few minutes. Extras are vary region to region.
Lecsó is closer to Basque piperade than to French ratatouille. Simple peasant meal with a ton of flavours. Summer in a bowl, literally! My favourite way to eat lechó was with crusty bread and a generous dollop of sour cream.
Within Paleo guidelines here is my take on classic lecsó, enriched with green beans this time:
You will need (serves 3 to 4):
65 g raw pork fat (the unrendered one)
4 large onions (I love my lecsó with plenty of onions, the more the better)
5 pointed yellow peppers
4 medium-large, well ripened tomatoes (oxheart is super sweet this year)
350 g green beans
1. Thinly slice the raw pork fat. Rinse the green beans, cut off the ends and cut into 1.5-2 cm long pieces. Rinse the peppers, cut them in half, discard the seeds and ribs, then slice. Rinse the tomatoes, cut them in half, discard the tough core and chop the flesh.
2. Heat a large, wide, tall(ish) pan with a lid (or use a stock pot). Add the prepared pork fat and fry on low heat for a few minutes until most of the fat is rendered.
3. Add the prepared onions and cook on gentle heat until most of the onion slices lightly browned. This may take up to 10 mins.
4. Add the prepared green beans. Toss for a few minutes, then add the prepared peppers. Toss for few more minutes.
5. Add the prepared tomatoes with a wee splash of water. Cover with the lid and cook, simmer, stew on gentle heat for 35 to 45 mins.
6. Serve into bowls. Share and enjoy!
Tip: Use coconut oil instead of pork fat/salo/lard to make this dish VEGAN.