Original Runza Recipe (Cabbage Burgers, Cabbage Rolls or Bierocks)

Ready for eating!

Runza’s, ready for eating!

According to WikiPedia, a runza (also called a bierock) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. They are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round (bun), square, or triangle. In Nebraska, the runza is usually baked in a rectangular shape. The bierocks of Kansas, on the other hand, are generally baked in the shape of a bun.

According to my palate, I define a runza as ‘yummy goodness’ – a very technical term, you know ;)

Runza is a traditional food of the interior mid-western states; a local tradition with many different recipes, depending on the cook. Though Nebraska and Kansas are known for runza, the recipe has spread quite a bit. A version of this recipe was bastardized, commercialized and Runza restaurants have popped up all over Nebraska, one in Kansas, and a few in Colorado now, too.  Their version is okay — but nothing quite compares to the way my mother and grandmothers made theirs.  (This recipe, however, is NOT  a copy cat for Runza Restaurants recipe at all.  This recipe is much older and much better – it’s what our great grandmothers made on a Saturday afternoon in the 30’s and 40’s as hand food for farmers.  If you are looking for a copycat recipe, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  )

I grew up watching my mother make these, and then waiting by the oven for them to finish baking — the smell moving through the house slowly … a tantalizing tease . Needless to say, runzas never lasted long in my house. Even now, with just the two of us, they don’t last too long.

Although I enjoy the original recipe for Runza, and do make it on occasion, I also enjoy making variations on it. I like to substitute half of the hamburger with hot Italian sausage (see recipe here) , add garlic, sometimes green peppers. Or at other times, adding cumin and ground dried chili, with jalapeno’s. There are many different ways to make Runza, though, traditionally, the recipe is as below – ‘Original Runza Recipe’.

Enjoy!

Original Runza Recipe

2 pound ground beef
1 large onion , chopped
Salt
Pepper
1 Medium Cabbage, chopped
2 batches of a white bread dough

Saute onion in a bit of oil until just translucent. Add hamburger and saute until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Drain away the grease, and return to the pan. Cover the mixture with the shredded cabbage and cook until the cabbage is done.  Stir occasionally.  This could take about 45 minutes or so.

Using an egg-dough recipe, roll small balls of dough thin to make a 5×5 square. Put about 1/2 cup of cabbage mixture in center of square and seal closed.  (See note below). Place seal side down on a parchment lined baking sheet (or a lightly greased sheet).  Allow these to sit, covered lightly with a tea towel, for about 20 minutes – so the dough can rise for the second time.

Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 or until lightly golden brown.

A side note:  Use a slotted spoon or similar when filling the dough to allow the cabbage/hamburger mix to be dry’ish.  You don’t want these “juicy” or the bottom of the roll will be doughy and wet and not cook properly.

Runza Recipe – Variation on the Original Recipe

1 pound ground beef
1 Pound hot italian sausage
1 large onion , chopped
Salt
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
Pepper
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium Green Pepper, chopped
1 Medium Cabbage, chopped
2 batches of bread dough*

Saute garlic, onion and green pepper in a bit of oil. Add ground beef and sausage and saute until brown. Drain the oil away. Place the mixture back in the pan and cover with the shredded cabbage (it will be heaping). Cook over medium heat, mixing together the meat mixture and cabbage, and cook until the cabbage is tender and sweet.

Set aside and let cool.

Roll small balls of dough thin to make a 5×5 square. Put about 1/2 cup of cabbage mixture in center of square and seal closed. Place seal side down on a parchment lined baking sheet (or a lightly greased sheet).

A side note:  Use a slotted spoon or similar when filling the dough to allow the cabbage/hamburger mix to be dry’ish.  You don’t want these “juicy” or the bottom of the roll will be doughy and wet and not cook properly.

Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 or until lightly golden brown.

Notes:

Freezing:

Use a slotted spoon or similar when filling the dough to allow the cabbage/hamburger mix to be dry’ish.  You don’t want these “juicy” or the bottom of the roll will be doughy and wet and not cook properly.

Runzas freeze very well. Allow them to cool completely, uncovered. Once these are cool, wrap in aluminum foil. I usually then put 4 wrapped runzas to a gallon ziplock bag and freeze.

I’ve kept these 4-6 weeks with no problem wrapped as above. If, however, you wish to keep these longer, allow to cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap well, wrap in aluminum foil, and place in either a ziplock back or an airtight container. You can then keep these for up to 3 months.

Reheating:

If you have not frozen these, heat the oven to 400F and heat for 10-12 minutes.

If you have frozen these, heat oven to 400F, put frozen, (and still wrapped runza package) into the oven and heat for 20-25 minutes. The last 5 minutes, remove the foil.

Variation:

Add 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
OR
Add 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

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About Michie

I write two blogs - This Food Thing, (www.thisfoodthing.com) and This Life I Lead (www.thislifeilead.wordpress.com).
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157 Responses to Original Runza Recipe (Cabbage Burgers, Cabbage Rolls or Bierocks)


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