The easiest and at the same time the most difficult thing in making tokány is that you can cook it as you like it. There are so many variants known that the word tokány doesn’t have any well-defined meaning. It can be made from pork, beef, game or chicken, with or without onion and paprika, adding marjoram, tomato, smoked lardons, sausage, mushroom or just green peas.
Tokány is usually considered as a Transylvanian meal because the craze for the ground paprika of the 19th century didn’t spread in Transylvania where every meat dish prepared similar to stew (pörkölt), but without ground paprika, seasoned with black pepper instead, was called tokány.
What distinguishes tokány from pörkölt is the way you cut the meat. For tokány the meat is prepared by cutting, perpendicularly to the meat fibers, into 4-6 cm long pencil thick strips. For pörkölt meat should be cut into cubes. Tokány should have a nice thick sauce. Its essential spice is black pepper; paprika may appear in some variations, but it mustn’t have an influance on the character of the tokány, otherwise it should be called pörkölt.
- 1 kg (~2 1/4 lbs) pork shoulder, cut into strips
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) smoked lardons
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 small tomatoes, cubed
- 150 g ham (~5 1/3 oz), cut into strips
- 6 pickled cucumbers, cut into strips
- 100 ml (~1/2 cup) dry white wine
- 1 level teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Place lardons in a frying pan and sauté on medium heat.
After a few minutes add chopped onion and fry until onion becomes transparent and lardons crisp on all sides.
Pour in the white wine, add the finely chopped garlic and tomato cubes.
Cook for a minute, then add the pork shoulder strips.
Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slowly sauté the meat, turning it over until no pink shows.
Add 100 ml (~1/2 cup) of water, cover and slowly cook until tender.
Add more water as needed.
When the meat is tender, add ham and pickled cucumber strips and cook for 5 minutes.
Serve with cooked pasta.