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Szarvashus Gombás Tokány

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 09 June 2010 at 16:29
What we have here is a venison-mushroom version of borsos tokány, which is strips of beef in a rich, savory, paprika-based sauce. when I tried borsos tokány:
 
 
I really liked it and vowed to do it again. This version will be my attempt to branch out a bit from what i have tried before.
 
Thanks to my wife, our children are closely tied to Hungarian cuisine; her family is originally from the area that is near the border between Slovakia and Hungary, and the Slovak village where her family comes from, Žakarovce, used to be a part of the Hungarian Empire.
 
Traditionally, tokány is usually made with beef, but my contribution to this dish is a strong tradition of self-sufficiency on my side of the family in the form of hunting - particularly deer-hunting - which provides some of the best meat possible for this dish. I am sure that somewhere along the line, a hungarian nobleman or perhaps even a lowly poacher used venison in this fashion. Additionally, my research shows that the word "tokány" translates into "stripes," so it seems that the tokány moniker is more a function of the way the meat is cut than what the meat is comprised of.
 
The addition of mushrooms is true to many versions of tokány and reflects culinary traditions in Hungary as well as in all areas of our family heritage, from Slovakia and Germany to the American West - and besides that, they just plain taste good!
 
I had considered making this with beer rather than wine; I have a feeling that it would be pretty good, but i figured that, for today, I am probably flexing my wings enough. Besides, it is possible that the use of beer would change it into an entirely different dish. If anyone does want to try tokány with beer rather than wine, I'd be interested in hearing about the results, regardless of the meat used.
 
Here is the recipe that will be used:
 
Szarvashus Gombás Tokány
 
3 pounds well-trimmed venison steaks from the hindquarter
Olive oil, butter or, to be more authentic, bacon fat or lard for frying
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 or 6 cloves garlic, crushed
4 generous tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
Salt, to taste
A generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups dry white wine
1 small can tomato paste

Cut beef into strips about 2 to 3 inches long. If you have a thick chuck, slice it into strips about 1 inch wide, then flip each slice on its side and slice that in half. Set aside.

Sauté the onion in a splash of oil (or other fat) over medium heat until golden. Remove from heat into a container. Add a little more fat and sauté meat in batches over high heat in an uncovered skillet or pot, browning well on all sides. Return the onions to the skillet, then remove from heat and add the garlic and paprika, stirring to coat. Season with salt and pepper, then add the wine. Return to heat and reduce to a gentle simmer, covered.

After about 20 minutes, uncover skillet and add tomato paste and a splash of water or wine to turn paste into a thick gravy. Continue simmering gently until the sauce thickens well, about 30 minutes, maybe more. Let the liquid reduce as much as possible. It will become a thick, smooth, maroon sauce.

Taste it at this point and add season if necessary. Serve immediately with rice, oven roasted or mashed potatoes.
 
 
Pictures of the process and after-action report to follow!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2010 at 15:58
in my opinion this turned out very well in spite of a couple of problems. here's how it went down.
 
first, of course, is a shot of the goods as per the recipe:
 
 
as you can see, there are closer to four pounds of venison than three there. this did affect the final product, but more on that later.
 
as with many recipes where things can happen fast during preparation, mise en plase is key to success when making tokany. after dicing the onions and peeling/crushing the garlic, i cut the venison into strips (shown above) and then added the paprika to a bowl with the kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper:
 
 
and plopped the tomato paste from the can onto a plate (i probably didn't actually need to do this, but i hate fighting with those small tomato paste cans while cooking!):
 
 
and of course i pre-measured the wine. I added a little extra, partially because of the extra venison in the dish and partially just because....
 
 
then came the time to prepare this feast!
 
as usual, i couldn't decide between olive oil or butter for the sauteeing, so i used a little of both. here it is heating up in our new cast-iron pan:
 
 
i then proceeded to saute the onions. this initial step is a necessary component of much hungarian cooking and a hallmark of the cuisine as much as paprika is. traditionally the onions are sauteed in pork fat, but....yeah.......
 
so here's just about how you want the onions to look:
 
 
a few moments after this, when they got good and carmelized around the edges, we removed them from the pan, added a little oil and butter, let the fat heat up and then tossed in the venison:
 
 
as you can see, i mixed about half of the paprika with the venison. this was not a good idea, as there is a very real danger of the paprika scorching from the high heat and also, possibly, becoming gritty. my advice is to add the paprika to the onions when cooking them.
 
also, right away i realized that i should have done this in two batches - in spite of the wonderful heat conduction and retention of the cast-iron, all that meat hitting it at once made it nearly impossible to sear and brown the meat properly, both due to the quick reduction in temperature and also the incredible amount of moisture that was released into the pan. i did my best to stir and reduce down the liquid as much as possible hoping to brown the meat well, and when it got to this point:
 
 
i added in the rest of the ingredients except the tomato paste:
 
 
it was at this point that i realized i should have added the garlic toward the end of cooking the onions, along with the paprika. also, i probably should have sauteed the mushrooms with the onions, but no big deal - i tossed them in at this point and i don't think that the dish suffered for it.
 
after stirring everything together thoroughly to get the flavours mingling, i brought the mixture to the point of boiling, then immediately reduced down to a very low setting to simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so:
 
 
at that point, i uncovered the pan, added a bit more wine and stirred in the tomato paste:
 
 
i then let the dish simmer, uncovered, for a little over half an hour. at the end of that time, the liquids had reduced almost perfectly into rich, savory goodness:
 
 
what else could we do but plate up with some oven-baked potatoes and enjoy our meal?
 
 
this turned out very well and i was impressed with the flavours. all components worked very well with the venison and it was a pleasure to eat. because of the temperature/searing problems mentioned earlier, and also because we are dealing with venison, the meat was a little drier than one would have noticed with beef. this could probably have been mitigated by using less meat at one time in the pan, with higher searing tempeatures and/or perhaps a bit more time simmering with a little more liquid (more of a braising). in spite of this, i would certainly do it again.
 
reactions were positive across the board, other than the fact that the potatoes were too salty. it seems that #2 son mike's OMG! threshold is a little higher than everyone else's, and when he made them, he went a little overboard. as for the main course, everyone liked it and found it to be quite good. the beautiful mrs. tas enjoyed it at first but after a while was fatigued on the taste, simply because it is vension, which she is not accustomed to. my dad as well as a friend of my sons' sampled this dish and found it to be very good, but they, like my boys and me, are used to eating deer on a regular basis. no matter how well the meat is taken care of in the field, on the butchering table and during preparation, it is still deer and is not going to taste like beef.
 
all-in-all, success with a great hungarian dish!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote got14u Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2010 at 22:31
Boy oh boy you know it's gotta be good if it's from hungary !!!!
and it looks great Ron
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 June 2010 at 02:44
Looks terrific Ron...next time I have some sirloin tips hanging around, I think I know what I'll do with them.
Go ahead...play with your food!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DIYASUB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 June 2010 at 03:11
Oh yeah! That's definitely the good life on a plate!
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