RISE & SHINE KAUT43 OKC
The State Fair has passed, and fall is quietly trying to make its way into Oklahoma. Personally, I’d like fall to make a little louder ruckus, but I can’t have everything. What I can have though is something reminiscent of state fairs in the Midwest (Kansas and Nebraska mostly) and “fall” in flavor.
Bierocks, or how I grew up knowing them, “Runzas” is something I crave this time of year. Growing up in Sapulpa, the one woman who put up with me more than my own mother, Gretchen White, is the person who introduced me to homemade runzas.
Fall afternoons I’d find myself at the White’s house on South Poplar (actually, any afternoon I’d find myself at their home whether they were expecting me or not) and Gretchen would have her skillet out browning minced beef, onion, and cabbage, ready to stuff into yeast dough to be baked.
Runzas/Bierocks are eastern European…German…Russian-ish in concept and brought over to the midwest through migration. Thank the food gods for those immigrants! Savory yeast rolls filled with ground meat and cabbage, Runzas made a portable, easy meal for workers on the go.
Yeah, they probably do the same now, but for us (read:” me”) they make a tasty meal while relaxing at home. I mean, what can beat freshly baked bread and meat sandwiches?
I’ve taken Gretchen’s idea and developed my own. Runzas are super uncomplicated.. if you’re comfortable with bread making; the dough part seems to be challenging for first time makers. If your dough making skills are on the beginner side, there is a way to overcome that and still have this delicious treat. Buy frozen yeast roll dough! If you’re comfortable in the department, I use my recipe for Sunday Supper Dinner Rolls, and they worked out perfectly! Enjoy!
Runzas - makes 12 to 15
For The Filling
Most people fry the onion, meat, and cabbage together until cooked. I layer my ingredients in a pot and braise until fully cooked. I also make the day before, so the filling has the proper time to cool down, but it isn’t necessary. Just make sure your mixture has cooled down enough before filling the yeast rolls.
2 tablespoons cooking oil or butter ( I use grapeseed oil )
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 medium green cabbage, cored and shredded (4-5 cups)
In the Kitchen With Scotty “Roast Beast Seasoning” or your own salt and black pepper
2-3 cups unsalted beef stock (may use chicken stock)
Shredded Cheese is optional for runzas, and I prefer sharp cheddar
In a large cast-iron pot or dutch oven, add enough oil or butter to coat the bottom lightly. Begin layering the ingredients into the pot, starting with a third of the shredded cabbage and half the onion.
Crumble up the ground beef and pork and sprinkle on top of the cabbage. Season this layer with a tablespoon or two of the Roast Beast Seasoning (or your own salt and pepper to taste). Add another layer of shredded cabbage and onion, then the ground meat and seasoning. Top off the layers with shredded cabbage.
Pour enough of the beef stock into the pot so that it comes up to half waypoint. Place the lid on top of the pot. Gently braise on the stove for 35-45 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender.
Remove from the stove and allow the filling to cool. At this point, you may cover and place in the refrigerator overnight, or drain out into a bowl to finish cooling completely.
For The Yeast Rolls
4-5 cups All-Purpose Flour (I’ll explain)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 egg, room temp (soak in warm water for 30 minutes or more if cold from the fridge)
5 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons butter, melted
With your stand mixer and with its dough hook attachment, add four cups of the flour to the mixing bowl. On one side of your flour, add the dry yeast and sugar. On the other side, add the salt. Salt will inhibit yeast growth initially, so I always keep the two separated in the mixing bowl.
Warm your milk to 100-110 degrees… so a little warmer than body temperature. Place the milk in your microwave for a few seconds until it is warm to the touch, or slowly warm in a pot on your stove. If the milk is too hot… and you will know “too hot” when you touch it, you will kill the yeast.
Add the room temp egg to the milk and beat with a fork gently.
Start running your mixer with the dough hook attachment and let the hook combine the dry ingredients together. Pour the warm milk and egg into the mixing bowl while the mixer is slowly running, Once the dry and wet start coming together a thick wet dough will begin to form. Knock the sides of the bowl gently so that all of the flour works its way to the center. Increase the speed of the mixer to really get that dough working and the needed gluten in the flour to start developing.
One tablespoon at a time start adding the softened butter; The butter will mix into the dough on its own, and you don’t have to wait for it to add the next tablespoon. Now, for that fifth cup of flour: Add half of it while the mixer is running (on low…else the flour will go everywhere) and wait for it to mix in. Increase the speed and see if the dough starts to pull away from the sides. If not add a little bit more, let it blend in, and see if it starts to pull away from the bowl. The idea is to get the dough just right with just enough flour (Yes bakers, I know weighing the ingredients would be better, but not every home cook is a semi-pro baker like you.)
Once you have enough flour, and I tend to use 4 1/2-4/34 cups, and the dough has pulled away from the bowl and is working with the dough hook, increase the speed, even more, to really get that nice “knead” worked into your dough. Plan at least five minutes on a higher speed to really accomplish a well-kneaded dough.
Remove the dough hook from the bowl. Remove the dough and add a tablespoon or so of oil to the bowl. Rub the oil inside the bowl then add the dough back to the bowl. Cover the top of the mixing bowl with plastic film or a damp towel and place the bowl in a warm spot to rise, Let the dough proof 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
When doubled in size, “Punch down” the dough and remove it to a lightly floured surface. For the runzas, I used a small kitchen scale to weigh out 2 ounces of dough. You can eyeball it if you have no scale and cut the dough pieces to about the size of a small lemon.
For The Runzas
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll each 2-ounce dough ball into a flat circle. Remember we are filling these so do not roll too thin, but wide enough for the filling; a diameter about twice the size of your mixture.
Place a scoop of the filling, juice free, into the center of the dough. If you are adding shredding cheese to your runzas, add this first; about 2 tablespoons worth, then the filling on top of that.
You may bring the sides up of the dough together and pinch along the seams to close, or you may also do it “Chinese dumpling” style, rounding and pinching the dough around the filling as you go. The idea here is to envelope the mixture around the dough, forming a beautiful round shape.
Place each of your runzas on a prepared/lined baking sheet pan. Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise at least 15 minutes. Brush the tops and sides with melted butter and place in the preheated oven. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve fresh from the oven or warmed… along with your favorite style of mustard ( and an ice-cold beer!!) Enjoy!