Hungarian Chicken lecso

Hungarian style Chicken

This recipe was born when we invited my in-laws for a Hungarian picnic. Traditionally, the protein part of the meal would be cold cuts: thinly sliced Hungarian paprika sausage or the famous Pick/Hertz winter salami.  You can’t get those here, though,  and substituting sugar-soaked ham was not an option for me. The other popular Hungarian custom for picnics is to take their big kettle and cook goulash, fish soup, bean stew or paprikash. I would be all for this, but I do not think it will make the California firefighters happy.  The grass is so dry that you can light it up just by looking at it. I also had doubts that the picnic grounds would be happy to see some crazy Hungarian making a huge pot of goulash while burning their turf, and I definitely didn’t want to risk expulsion from the Marin Cheese Factory. Where would I get my healthy dose of Camembert?  So under pressure, I threw together this recipe, with a very Hungarian result. It’s maybe best served warm, but kept cool in the picnic basket, it makes a great sandwich filling.

Chicken with Hungarian flavors

Hungarian Vegetable Chicken

This is a rustic dish and it can be altered as you wish. If you are crazy, you can skip the bacon and go for vegetable oil. It will still be good.


Feeds 4 people.

  • 2 pounds boneless chicken (preferably dark meat)
  • 3 wax peppers (Anaheim)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 strip smoked bacon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup red wine
  • pepper to taste


  • Cut the chicken into 1 inch strips or cubes. Dice the bacon and the onions. Mince the garlic, slice the pepper and the tomatoes into circles.
  • Start frying the bacon on medium high heat to render some fat, then add the onions.
  • When onions are translucent or even caramelized (burned) on the edges add the chicken cook on all sides (5-6min) and then add the peppers and the pepper and paprika.
  • When peppers start to shrivel (7-15 min), add the garlic and tomatoes. Toss together and cook for 7 more minutes (do not burn the garlic).
  • Add the wine and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.


2 Responses

  1. For me lecso will always be sauteed white Hungarian Peppers (nothing else will do as the green yellow and red varieties are way too sweet – thankfully Greeks and Asians use the peppers too so available in my multicultural UK town), tomatoes, onion, and hot paprika. Usually with Kabanosi type sausage sliced in, eaten with rice, or as I prefer a couple of eggs thrown in to make it a loose omlette with rye bread …

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