Guest Author - Launa Stout
I was at a friend’s house one October when her Aunt Ina was visiting. Aunt Ina comes every year to help them make bierocks. I had never heard of bierocks before we moved to Kansas, so I had to find out what they were, and why they were so special.
A bierock is rather like a calzone or an empanada, in that it is pastry with a filling.
Usually it has cooked, chopped or ground meat (most often beef); add some chopped yellow onion and some sauerkraut, and then wrap the whole thing in a dough or pastry. These are usually about fist sized so that you can tuck some in your pocket and go on your way.
In the 1870’s the German settlers bought the concept of and recipes for bierocks to the Great Plains area. What probably originally started in Russia as pirogues evolved as it passed through time and locations throughout Eastern Europe.
The bierock continued to evolve through the Midwest. By changing the shape to a rectangle and adding pork and cheese it became the runza sandwich in Nebraska. Runza aficionados continue to experiment with other additions and have developed their own favorites by adding mushrooms or bacon.
When there is a family recipe that has been handed down through generations the family tends to stick pretty close to that recipe - hence - the visit of Aunt Ina.
Her recipe is for a traditional bierock: ground beef, onions, cabbage with some sauerkraut and yummy dough. They are best served warm, but they can be frozen and reheated as desired.
Aunt Ina’s Bierocks
For the dough:
• 1/4 cup active dry yeast
• 2 2/3 cups warm water
• 2/3 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup butter
• 9 1/4 cups flour
• 2/3 cup powdered milk powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
1. In a medium bowl, combine yeast and sugar in warm water until dissolved.
2. Add the butter, then flour, dry milk and salt.
3. Mix dough well, knead until smooth (about 10 minutes), and let rise until doubled.
For the filling:
• 5 pounds ground beef
• 12 cups cabbage
• 2 ˝ cups sauerkraut (usually a large can)
• 1 large onion
1. Dice the large onion.
2. Chop the cabbage.
3. Brown and drain ground beef.
4. Add cabbage, onion and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Cook slowly until cabbage and onion are tender.
6. Remove mixture from heat and stir in sauerkraut. Cool.
• Separate the dough into into 3-ounce balls.
• Roll out each piece flat (about 1/4 inch thickness).
• Place 1/2 cup of meat mixture in the center of each, pull corners of dough over filling and pinch together.
• Place seam side down on baking sheet and let rise for 20 minutes.
• Trial and error will help you know exactly how much meat mixture to use.
Bake at 350-375 degrees for 20 minutes
Remove from oven when nicely browned, and brush them with melted butter.
This recipe makes about four dozen; you can double it if you want to freeze the extra.
This is a wonderful recipe to share with your family and friends. Gather them around the table and enjoy their company, and share tales. If you have an Aunt Ina try to get her talking to tell you about the olden days.