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Hungarian Seven Chieftains Tokany

1/4 pound bacon, smoked
1 pound beef, lean
3/4 pound pork shoulder
3/4 pound veal shoulder
1 cup onion, chopped
cooking oil
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, sweet
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/4 teaspoon marjoram, dried
1/4 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed
1 medium bell pepper, sliced 1/2" wide
3 medium tomatoes, canned
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup sour cream

Cut up each of the meats in to strips, sized about like french
fries, i.e. 1/4" by 1/4 " x 2". Keep the meats in separate bowls.
In a large cocotte or deep skillet, fry the bacon until just
golden. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside, but leave
the rendered fat in the skillet. Put the onion in the still hot
fat and saute until transparent. If you need a little more oil,
add some cooking oil or lard. Before the onions turn golden, add
the paprika, the marjoram and the caraway, and immediately add a
cup of warm water. Do not allow the spices to fry because the
paprika will turn bitter quickly.

In a separate heavy, skillet, heat some more oil and start browning
the beef. Do this a little at a time, as you want the meat to become
well browned. The best order is beef first, then pork, and finally
veal (The toughest meat first. Beef should be top round or flank.)
As they are done, transfer them to the skillet containing the onion
and spices, which should be at a light simmer. Add more hot water
as necessary to keep the meat and onion covered. Let the beef cook
an hour before you do the pork. Brown the pork strips and transfer
as before, but this time add the tomatoes and pepper strips to the
pot after the pork, cover and continue to simmer. Brown the veal
and add to the pot after the pork has cooked 1/2 hour. Let cook
another 1/2 hour and then test to be sure all the meats are tender.
If they are not, simmer until they are.

At this point, remove the tokany from the heat and allow it to
stand for 5-10 minutes, then degrease the dish with a fat separator.
Add the beef stock and bring back to the simmer for 5 minutes. Stir
in the bacon strips, remove from heat and allow to stand until
lukewarm.

While the tokany is cooling, bring the sour cream to room temperature.
When the tokany is sufficiently cooled, whip the cream a little in
a bowl, then add a half-ladle of the juice to the sour cream and
whip it in with a fork. Repeat. Add the cream to the pot and fold
it into the liquid. If the liquid is too hot, the cream will curdle.
Taste and adjust salt as necessary.

Gently reheat to serving temperature and remove to the table, where
the meat and gravy are served over galuska, a noodle that is much
like German-Austrian spaetzle. You can substitute wide egg noodles
with no loss of flavor.

NOTES : According to tradition, this dish was first served in the
reign of King Mattias (Matthias) of Hungary in the 16th century.
The occasion of a the dinner was the celebration of a truce among
the seven warring tribes. One story has each of the chieftains
(vezerek) providing an ingredient on behalf of his people. The
seven ingredients are the four meats, tomatoes, peppers and sour
cream.

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