Chicken Hungarian lesco

Published on April 26th, 2011 | by Gareth


Hungarian lecso and smoked paprika meatballs

The soggy murk that descended upon Sydney this Easter weekend was a bit of bummer, road trips and hikes are never as much fun when most things are wet or closed and the walking tracks resemble a mud wrestling contest (the mud part not the bikini clad girls part).  That said, imagine camping dad hitting the trail complete with boots, compass and thermos of tea only to come across a couple of female mud wrestlers sprawled across the path. Random but his expression would make a great facebook picture, anyway back to the lecsó and hungarian food.

All this rain isn’t that bad though, it gave me a good reason to make something different for dinner. As we recently went back to Corner 75, I was inspired to make lecsó (pronounced lecho), a traditional Hungarian dish. Lecsó is a little like ratatouille and can be served as a main dish or a side.

Paprika is certainly the super hero of a lot of Hungarian cuisine. I love the combination of peppery warmth and the sweet smokey taste of paprika, the generous quantity in this dish is sure to warm your cheeks (face not bum). Also as this only really consists of 4 ingredients it’s pretty easy to cook. To make it into a more substantial meal I ruined it for you vegetarians by adding smoked paprika chicken meatballs. Seriously though exclude the meatballs and its one tasty vegetable side or a good low carb vegetarian meal. A bit like a casserole but more fun and less 70s!

Preparation time:  20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes


Smoked paprika chicken meatballs

  • 500g minced chicken (can be substituted for pork and lamb).
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, (3 slices of stale bread, crusts removed and blended)
  • Large pinch of salt


  • 2 Green capsicums, deseeded and sliced lengthways
  • ½ Red capsicum, deseeded and sliced lengthways
  • 1 Onion
  • 500g Fresh tomatoes or 2 tins of whole plum tomatoes
  • 4 tsp Plain paprika
  • 50g Shortening


Smoked paprika meatballs

  • Blend the bread to make the bread crumbs and transfer to a mixing bowl
  • Roughly chop the onion then blend with the garlic for a minute then add to the bowl. If the onion paste is particularly wet squeeze the excess water out. This will help prevent the meatballs are not too soggy.
An image of minced chicken for smoked paprika meatballs

Put all the meatball ingredients in a bowl


Add the remaining ingredients to make the meatballs and mix thoroughly by hand. Chill the meatball mix for 30 minutes in the fridge.  Whilst you are waiting chop all the ingredients for the lecsó.


  • Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the shortening. Ideally this should be lard for authentic flavour. However if that is not available or you just don’t fancy punishing the arteries you can use vegetable shortening or even canola oil.
Sliced capsicums

Slice capsicum length ways about 2cm thick


  • If you are using fresh tomatoes you will need to blanche them to remove the skin. Cross the skin at the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife. Transfer the tomatoes to boiling water for 30 seconds then transfer to a bowl of cold water. The skin will now easily peel off. Set the peeled tomatoes aside and discard the skin.
cutting tomato skin for blanching

Cut an x into the tomato skin at the bottom


  •  Add the onion and cook on a very low heat until lightly browned. This should take about 10 minutes. As soon as they have become soft and honey in colour add the plain paprika and stir. Increase the heat to half way and add the tomatoes and the capsicum.
  • Cook over a medium heat until the majority of the liquid has reduced.
  • Cover and simmer over a low heat until the pepper is tender.
  • Whilst the lecsó is simmering heat 2 tsp of oil in a sauté or frying pan.
  • Remove the meatball mix from the fridge and using about 1 ½ table spoon of the roll into balls (they should be about the size of a small plum, not too big other wise it will take an age to cook). Repeat until all the mixture is used.
  • Carefully fry the meat balls over a low heat until they are cooked. They will become firm and golden in colour. Cook each side for a few minutes.
  • When the paprika meatballs are cooked add to the lecsó. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika. Obviously if you are a vegetarian skip the meatball part and serve on its own.
Lesco and smoked paprika meatballs

Top up your glass and you are ready.


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About the Author

Englishman in Sydney loves a whisky, pies and all things savoury. Digital Marketer by day, cook the rest of the time. Amateur writer, photographer & aspiring anthropologists.

5 Responses to Hungarian lecso and smoked paprika meatballs

  1. jenius says:

    LOL at your point about quantity of paprika warming face cheeks not bum cheeks! Haha…

  2. Lorriane Not Quite Nigella says:

    Hasn’t it be terrible weather! Still the five days have felt so luxurious! I adore Corner 75 and would love to remake some of their dishes. This looks great Gareth!

  3. yum that sounds perfect for such crappy weather we’ve been having!

  4. Wayne says:

    That looks good, must try it.

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