Ladies and Gentleman, May I have your attention puh-lease!

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(Yeah, sorry about that...couldn't help myself....)

This, for those of you who have not grown up in the Eastern European-immigrant-influenced Midwest, is a bierock--a meat and cabbage filled pocket pastry.

Despite the fact that I did actually grow-up in the Eastern European-immigrant-influenced Midwest, I had never tried one until a few weeks ago when we ate lunch with Nice Grandma at The Friendship House.  (If you ever find yourself in Wamego, Kansas, it is--almost literally--the only place to go.)  It was such a tasty little bite that Sweet Husband and I decided to try to make some of our own.

We secured Nice Friend's grandmother's recipe, which was perfect in all respects but two:

  1. The filling to dough ratio.  We started with less meat than recommended (about 1 1/2 pounds, instead of 2 pounds), and still had about 3 cups of filing leftover.  Not a big deal, as I think it will mix in well with rice or pasta, but something to consider.
  2. The seasoning.  Nice Friend warned us that bierocks are traditionally a bit bland.  We subbed 1/2 a pound of hamburger for apple sausage, added about three fistfuls of dried sage and thyme, and two dried chili peppers.  Although that was enough to make them acceptable, I certainly wouldn't call them overly flavorful either.  Something about the dough is just like kryptonite to the spices. But if you have your bierocks with mustard or--as The Friendship House serves them--with horseradish sauce, all will be well.

The recipe makes about 2 dozen, and you can freeze whatever you can't eat in a few days.  I'm looking forward to the stash of easy to grab lunches!  

Also, although they wouldn't be "traditional", you could really fill these with about anything, as long as it's not too liquid-y or greasy.  Maybe sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and spicy sausage for something more Italian?  Lamb and feta to go a little Greek?  Possibilities, possibilities!  Here's the basic recipe:

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Bierocks

Dough

  • 2 pkgs yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5-6 cups flour+

Dissolve the yeast in the water with the 1/2 tsp sugar and let sit until foamy.  Add eggs, milk, salt, sugar, and butter.  Add flour to make a soft, but not sticky dough.  Cover and let rise for 45 min. to 1 hour.  Knead down and let rise again.  Roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick, and cut into 6-inch squares.

Filling

  • 2 lbs ground beef (As noted, we used 1lb ground beef and 1/2 lb sausage--and next time I might even up the ratio of sausage)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • 3-4 lbs shredded cabbage
  • salt, pepper (and whatever other seasonings you want to add--it's really not possible to over-season these)

Cook ground beef with half of onion.  Cook cabbage with the other half of the onion (until it's translucent).  (Our meat was very lean, so there wasn't a lot of fat to drain off, but you'll want the filing to be fairly dry, so if either the cabbage or the beef is liquid-y at all, you'll need to drain it well.)  Add everything together and cook for 5 more minutes.

Assembly

Put enough filling on each square so that you can still pinch the corners together.  (I found 2-3 heaping tablespoons worked well.)  Put the pinched side down on a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.  (Although not in the original recipe, we brushed the tops with butter to make them nice and brown.)  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until browned.  

Eat a few while they're warm and delicious, then wrap the rest in foil and freeze for later noms!