When FE first encountered lescó in the Slovene town of Ilirska Bistrica, it was an accompanying sauce with crusty polenta squares and freshly cooked sausages.
Fresh paprika peppers and juicy tomatoes, being plentiful throughout the Balkans, are stewed and bottled for use as a cold condiment. Every household keeps lecsó, made or bought.
And it can be reheated and served as a sauce.
The home-made versions include numerous additional ingredients and variations of ratios between the peppers and tomatoes.
The base is one to one peppers and tomatoes, a third onions and sufficient oil to sauté the onions and coat the ingredients.
The ground paprika quantity is always personal.
Lecsó/Lečo – 1
2.5 kg green and red paprika peppers, fresh, de-seeded, chopped 2.5 kg tomatoes, fresh, chopped small 800 g onions, chopped 100 ml olive oil 25 g sweet paprika 10 g hot paprika 10 g sugar
Sauté onions in the oil over a low heat in a deep pot for 15 minutes.
Add peppers, increase heat and cook for ten minutes
Add tomatoes, sugar and paprika, cover and simmer over a low heat for 90 minutes.
Lecsó/Lečo – 2
This is Károly Gundel’s recipe from his Hungarian Cookery Book.
2.5 kg green and red paprika peppers, fresh 1 kg tomatoes, fresh 200 g onions, chopped 90 g oil 90 g smoked szalonna/back bacon 1 tsp hot paprika Salt, large pinch
Scald the tomatoes, skin and quarter them, writes Gundel. Core the green paprikas (peppers) and cut each into five or six pieces lengthwise. Dice the bacon, brown in oil and add the finely chopped onions. When the onions are browned, add the red paprika, mix, and then add the green paprika and tomatoes, stewing the mixture over a slow fire. If the green paprika are too hot, scald them before putting them into the stew.