Citizens, a runza (also called a bierock, fleischkuche, or Kraut Pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, pork, 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.
The Runza sandwich originated in Russia during the 1800s and spread to Germany before appearing in the United States.
Germans account for 42% of Nebraska’s population (fourth in the nation by percentage), and a goodly portion of these Germans are the group known as the Volga Germans, otherwise known as the “Germans from Russia,” an ethnic group with its own museum in Lincoln.
My recipe is traditional but I have chosen to spice up the filling with classic Sauerkraut spices of caraway and cumin. I also follow the path of adding in ground sausage meat with the ground beef. I’ve chosen kielbasa as my choice.
My super-secret weapon? Gin. The juniper and herbal flavors penetrate the cabbage and add some old-world juniper sauerkraut elegance to the flavor profile of the humble ruska. Don’t worry, the alcohol burns off during its cooking and you can leave it out if you prefer.
Lastly and in a complete 180 from the previous paragraph – I use a bit of Velveeta as my cheese in these pockets. Yes, I love artisinal cheese – but Velveeta works and melts really well in this recipe. If you have an issue, use a different cheese or leave the cheese out altogether.
Enjoy these heartland treats, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
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