White Pepper, Tomato and Pepperoni Lecho is a Hungarian classic. It is best made with late summer Hungarian white peppers and beafsteak tomatoes. I usually add either pepperoni or Polish sausage, but it can be made with chicken or even pork chops.
Tip : I like to keep the hot banana pepper whole throughout the cooking cycle and then burst the pepper at the end for some heat. If you like a lot of heat, keep the pepper in the mixture, if you like just a little, discard after you have burst the pepper.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 medium sweet onion
- 1/2 lb pepperoni
- 3 medium fresh tomatoes
- 2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika
- 6 medium Hungarian white peppers
- 1 hot banana pepper
- 1/3 cup white rice uncooked
- 2 tsp kosher salt to taste
Gather all ingredients before starting recipe.
- Slice 1/2 lb pepperoni into 1/4" slices and finely chop 1 medium sweet onion.
- Quarter 6 medium Hungarian white peppers and then slice each quarter into 1-2" long slices. Slice the 3 medium fresh tomatoes into 8 wedges. Set aside until ready to use.
- Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium high heat in a deep sided skillet and add the pepperoni and chopped onion. Stir to combine and sauté for 5-6 minutes or until the onions become soft and the pepperoni is caramelized on both sides.
- Remove pan from the heat and add 2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika and 2 tsp kosher salt to taste and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the tomato wedges and stir to combine. Sauté until the tomatoes have started to let out some of their juices, about 5-6 minutes. If the mixture looks dry, add a little water, 1/4 cup at a time.
- Add the sliced 6 medium Hungarian white peppers , cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 15 minutes. The mixture should be cooking at a gentle simmer. Check periodically to make sure that the mixture is cooking evenly, no need to stir.
- The mixture is ready for the addition of the rice when the pan juices are clearly visible when the peppers are pushed aside. The amount of juice depends on the juices let out by the tomatoes and peppers, so the amount of rice should be adjusted according to the amount of juice.
- Sprinkle 1/3 cup white rice uncooked (or more if there is lots of juice) over the top of the peppers and combine, making sure that the rice is folded into the juices. Cover with a lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Lecho is best made from Hungarian white peppers, but these peppers are not available everywhere. I have used cubanelle peppers in the past as they have a similar color and mild flavor. I would consider this a close second choice, although you would have to reduce the cooking time as cubanelle peppers have thinner flesh than the white peppers. I have also seen yellow bell peppers used, but these peppers have a much thicker flesh than the white peppers and also have a sweet flavor. When cooked, whichever pepper is used, the peppers should be soft but not mushy. In addition, the color and the taste of the Hungarian white pepper is what makes this dish a Hungarian classic so dark green peppers such as bell peppers or poblano peppers may taste delicious but would not resemble Lecho.