Archive for December, 2012

Hungarian Lecso

Hungarian Lecso

I am not Hungarian, so this recipe may not be entirely authentic, but I have experimented with lecso (pronounced “LECH-oh”) enough to know what works well and what doesn’t. This is a favorite dinner recipe at our house, and I hope you enjoy it too.

Ingredients

1 Sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 Red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, sliced
2 Tbsp bacon fat or fat of choice
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb kielbasa or smoked sausage

A couple of notes before beginning. First, don’t use green bell peppers, despite what more traditional recipes might say. Red bell peppers are delicious in this recipe, while green bell peppers ruin it.

Second, I prefer sweet Hungarian paprika over smoked paprika. If smoked paprika is all you can get, it will do, but sweet Hungarian paprika is better for this recipe.

Begin by slicing the peppers and onions.

Sliced onions and peppers

Next, cook the onions and peppers over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pot with the bacon fat, beef tallow, or your fat of choice. Olive oil or coconut oil also work nicely. I recommend cooking the  onions and peppers until the onions begin to caramelize. This can take 20-30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Sauteed peppers and onions

Once the onions have begun to caramelize and the peppers are nice and soft, add the canned, diced tomatoes, juice and all, along with the paprika and salt. Stir everything together and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Before serving, add the sliced sausage to the pot and let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the meat is thoroughly heated. It may not look like much in this picture, but it is absolutely delicious.

Hungarian Lecso

I recommend serving it over riced cauliflower. I served this last night to guests with riced cauliflower and a side of Brussels sprouts slaw from the Paleo Comfort Foods cookbook, and it was an enormous hit.

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Saving your grass-fed beef fat

In my kitchen, we cook a lot of grass-fed ground beef. We use it for paleo tacos, chili, bunless hamburgers, meatballs, and lots more. The beef we buy from our local farmers market is pretty lean, so there’s never much fat left in the pan after cooking. But we also buy the 75% lean ground beef from US Wellness Meats, which leaves plenty of fat. Rather than throw this delicious, healthy fat away, as you might do with commercial ground beef, you can save it for later and use it in other dishes.

Here are a few reasons you might want to do this:

  1. Grass fed beef tallow is one of the healthiest fats you can eat. It’s lower in polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) than nearly any other oil, and higher in vitamin K2, CLA, vitamin A, and other nutrients than other fats.
  2. It’s savory, beefy taste makes it an excellent choice for certain types of cooking. (I use it for sautéing vegetables when making chili, veggie egg scrambles, and many other dishes).
  3. It’s a free source of healthy calories. Hey, you already paid for it! Why not use it?

To store the fat for later use, you need to separate the oil from the water and other beefy bits that are all mixed together when you drain the meat. If you simply put it in a bowl and stick it in the fridge, the watery parts will start growing mold in a week or so. By separating the fat, you can store it for much longer.

To get the best results, here’s what I do:

  1. Drain the meat and pour all drippings into a bowl.
  2. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours. The oil will float to the top and solidify, while the water will sink to the bottom
  3. Once the fat is solid, take the solid fat off and place it in a clean bowl, and discard the water.
  4. Lastly, melt the oil by heating it for a few seconds in the microwave oven, and then strain it through cheesecloth into another clean dish. This will remove any impurities and leave you with a fairly clear oil that can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks and used as need.

What do you use your grass-fed beef fat for? Leave a comment and let me know.