Skip to main content

Cooking Ex-Nihilo: Bierrocks

When we lived in the village, every now and then we'd escape the craziness of the Grand-Central-Station-that-was-our-yard life and take a picnic out into the bush.  I am sure everybody thought these anasaras (white people) who had a perfectly good kitchen and table from which to eat were crazy to take their food into the middle of nowhere and eat outside.  

The view from our picnic spot
Well, the idea of getting away from it all by going on a picnic sounds like a good idea until you try to figure out what to take.  Sandwiches are ok, but home-made bread tends to crumble when made into sandwiches.  And the bigger question is what to put in sandwiches in a place where you can't buy lunch meat or sliced cheese!  Well, we discovered a great hot sandwich to make that totally eliminates the need for cutting bread or figuring out what to do with the bread.  I'm not saying these are less work ... in fact, they are probably far more work than just making a sandwich, but the deliciousness of them is worth it.

I am talking about bierrocks, apparently a good Mennonite food as the recipe is in the Mennonite cookbook, More with Less.  In some parts of the country, they are called runzas.  I can't tell you much about them as this is not something I grew up eating, but it is a recipe my girlfriends and I discovered when we were single together in Nigeria.  Wikipedia, however, informs me that, 
A runza (also called a bierock, fleischkuche, or kraut pirok) 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.
I also notice that Wikepedia spells it bierock and my cookbook spells it bierrock, so we shall stick with the two r spelling.  Also, bierrocks traditionally are made of a mixture of cabbage and ground beef, but my cookbook suggests a pizza-flavored alternative, so of course we're going with the pizza one!

Here is the recipe:
First, get your adorable grandbaby to help. :)

Prepare as for roll dough:
2 c. warm water
2 packages (or 2 Tablespoons) dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1/4 cup margarine
6 - 6 1/2 cups flour  (I am not going to go into details on how to make dough on this blog, but the secret to good dough is to NOT add all the flour at once.  Stir in about three cups, then add the rest little by little until you get the right consistency.)
Don't let the dough rise, but chill the dough several hours.

Meat filling:
Brown in skillet:
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup onion
1 teaspoon garlic (the recipe doesn't call for garlic, but hey, you can't go wrong with adding garlic!)
To browned meat add:
3/4 cup tomato paste (not sauce, which would make this too runny)
1/4 cup water
2 t. sugar
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

Cool slightly.  Meanwhile, roll out dough into thin sheets.  Cut in 5-inch squares.  Place 2 tablespoons meat mixture on each square. 


Sprinkle with a pinch of grated cheese.  

Fold dough over filling and pinch the edges (I make mine round shaped like a bun).  Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Let rise 15 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Normally I would let them get a little browner than this, but I was still get used to an electric oven (may never get used to an electric oven!).  It is a skill to know when they are brown enough without letting them end up dry and crunchy and over-cooked.

Grab some fresh veggies, fruit, and some drinks and you're ready for your picnic!  It's nice to have some paper plates, but it isn't necessary!



Popular posts from this blog

Graduation Season

It's the season for graduations!  Yesterday I attended two graduations.  Thankfully one was in the morning and one was in the evening.  There were differences and similarities.  

The morning graduation was at the flight controller and meteorologist training school.  Six of the graduates attended our Bible study regularly and a seventh came occasionally.  We grew to dearly love this group.  

The evening ceremony was at our MK school and all of the graduates this year were missionary kids and one pastor's kids; the majority of the missionary kids were from our mission.  So I've known most of these kids since they were little. 

The similarities were:
1.  Both groups were fairly small (30 for the flight controller school and 13 for our mission school).  Both groups were very close to each other; at the flight controller school they have all classes together and live in dorms together for 14 months with only a few days off and no real vacations; at the mission school the kids have …

Practice Hospitality

My mother-in-law, Jean, is an amazing person with many gifts.  One of the first things I noticed about her when I was but a young bride, was her gift of hospitality.  It was nothing for her to invite a large group of people over, make each one feel welcome, cook a big meal,and seemingly do it without stressing herself out.  I don't know if hospitality just came naturally to her or if she learned it.  In this picture you can see Jean throwing a party for a class she taught in Nigeria.  

I believe that for me it has been a learned skill.  My parents were hospitable and it wasn't unusual for us to have guests over (though usually not as many at a time as my mother-in-law would do!).  But when I started living on my own, I had to learn hospitality.  The first time I invited somebody over for a meal, the lid got stuck on the pot of vegetables, I put too much salt or soda or something in the muffins, and I forgot to serve milk and sugar with the hot drinks.  I've gotten much bett…

Beyond Our Ability to Endure

I've been working on our home assignment audio-visual presentation.  It's been a lot of work, especially since it requires sorting through hundreds of pictures to choose the ones we want to use.  I was hoping to put together something that would be really "Wow!"  Well, in the end it's just a power point with some music and a few slides coming in with a fancy spin.  But it's our story, and our story is nothing more than God's story when it comes right down to it.  In fact, I have used Big Daddy Weave's song, My Story in part of the presentation.  If you're not familiar with the song, you can listen to it here
As I looked over the past four years of this term there were days that we felt we had reached our ability to endure.  We started the term in July 2013 and we were still recovering from the flood of 2012.  We have all of our "normal" stresses such as living in an extremely hot climate, living in the poorest country of the world, livi…