Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lesco--Hungarian for Really Good!

Pronounced "letcho," Lesco is the Hungarian word for stew. It always has peppers and sweet paprika. Other ingredients vary. In the Northern version of Lesco lard or bacon fat is used to sauté the meat and vegetables. The Southern version uses sunflower oil. I personally prefer the flavor of this Lesco recipe when it is made using bacon. Hungarian paprika must be used, it is essential to the proper flavor of the Lesco.

Recently I’ve begun making this dish in a crock pot, and have been very satisfied with the results. It can also be made on the stove top in a Dutch oven. The preparation of this dish requires cooking bacon and sauteing, providing another opportunity to plug the cast iron skillet and encourage you to acquire one if you have not already done so.

Lesco with Pork

1-1/2 lbs. pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1 to 2 inch cubes

3 slices bacon

1 large onion, chopped

1 tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika

2 16 oz. cans whole tomatoes with liquid or

(1 qt. tomatoes with juice)

2 green peppers, seeded and sliced

2 Tbsp. rice

1 tsp. kosher salt

Black pepper

Vegetable stock

Cook the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp, remove and place on paper towel lined plate to drain.

Place the pork in the same skillet and sauté in the bacon fat until it is no longer pink. Remove from the skillet and place in a crock pot or Dutch oven. Cook the onion until tender in the same skillet, and then remove to the crock pot or Dutch oven with the pork.

If you are using a crock pot add the paprika, tomatoes with juice, green peppers, rice, salt and a good grind of pepper. Crumble the reserved bacon into the crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.

If you are using a Dutch oven, place it on a large burner and add the juice from the tomatoes (reserve tomatoes) and the paprika. If the tomato juice does not cover the pork, add a little vegetable stock. Turn the burner to high, when the liquid boils, reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. At the end of the hour, add the reserved tomatoes, the peppers, rice, salt and a good grind of pepper. Crumble in the reserved bacon. Add a little vegetable stock if necessary. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

For both crock pot and Dutch oven preparations: Before serving taste the Lesco and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately with biscuits or a hearty bread.

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