About Me

My photo
I started cooking as a kid and have found it to be a passion for me throughout my life. I've worked in a cooking specialty store, ran a catering company and most importantly, fed my family and expressed my love for them through food.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Runza? I don't even like to jog!!!

What on earth is a Runza you say?  If you're not from the midwest, this may seem like a made up word.  But as a child in the Lincoln Public Schools, it was even on the school lunch menu.  Bunza, Runza, let's call the whole thing off!

It is, simply put...ground beef, cabbage and onions, baked inside of a soft white bread dough.  They're German I think.  What I know, is that they make me happy.  They are sold at fast food Restaurants called Runza drive in.  And though they are good, nothing beats a homemade runza.  And they are amazingly simple.  I'm not saying they are "quick"but they are hearty fare and often a fan favorite.  My recipe is a cheater version.  If you aren't a cheater like me and are willing to make homemade dough (because you actually understand and embrace yeast unlike me), make a regular white bread dough.

Here you go! 

This recipe make about 12 good sized Runzas.  They freeze my friends.  Bake em all, then wrap the remaining in foil then in a zip lock bag.  Reheat in the oven to crisp them up.

3 pounds of ground beef, fat is fine here...remember, this is not for vegetarian or health nuts
1 small or 1/2 of a large green cabbage finely shredded...don't get crazy here...red cabbage is a BAD idea
2 small onions diced fine

1 bag of Rhodes white bread dough with 3 logs in it

Thaw the bread dough in the bag overnight in the fridge

The night before you want to make them (you can do it the same day, but this is just easier),

Shred the cabbage (I use the food processor and it take about 1 minute!).  I also chop my onions in the food processor.

Brown the hamburger in a BIG dutch oven or a big skillet.  You might have to do this in batches.  After the burger is about half browned, add the onions.  Once it is completely browned, add the cabbage.  At this point, do not freak out.  Add it all and it will cook down.  I don't dig long shreds of cabbage in the ultimate runza.  It should flavor the meat mixture somewhat subtly.

You're cooking it till the cabbage is soft...not crunchy at all.  This will take about 15 minutes.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Don't be shy about seasoning them.  Taste it and adjust it.  Cabbage tends to need a little extra salt so don't be shy.

 If there is much fat in the bottom after cooking (more than 1 -2 tablespoons)  either drain it off or add about 2 tablespoons of flour, mix well into the meat mixture and cook for about 3 minutes.  If you're doing this the night before, cover and chill for the next day.  I like to add a touch of flour because it firm up the filling.

Ok...so now you have what seems like a LOT of the filling.  But you'll be happy you have so much.

When you're ready to assemble the runzas, take your dough out and divide 2 of the logs into 12 portions -  you'll have 1 log left.  I usually make some simple buns and Tessa smears them with Nutella when they are still warm.  ooh it's good.

Back to the main event. 

On a good work surface with enough flour on hand to make things easy, roll out each dough portion into an oval about 6-7 inches across.    With your hands, scoop up a loose log of filling (1/2 a cup or so) and place in the middle of your dough.  Pull up the corners, then the rest of the dough to seal it up and pinch together.  Flip your little loaf of love over.  Shape it into a fat little oval.  That's it.  You just made yer self a Runza.

Place your happy bundles on a big jelly roll pan...you can usually get 12 on a pan and this recipe makes about 12.  Some like the bundles to touch on the baking sheet but I like a crispy crust all around so I space em out.

Bake them at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes till golden. If you want a softer crust, brush em with a little melted butter right after they come out of the oven.

That's it my friends.  I hope you'll try them.  They bring back all kinds of memories of my grandma making 2-3 big pans at a time.  It's a cheap and easy way to feed a crowd.  For years, this along with homemade Chicken Noodle Soup was my Christmas eve fare for my family.

Now, if you eat too many of these, you just may have to take up jogging.