Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bierocks - the food of my people!

In Kansas, everyone eats bierocks. Bierocks are a bread pocket filled with meat & cabbage. Yes, I said cabbage! They are a delicious Volga-German food (most people in Kansas are part of this ethnic group somewhere along the line) and so far as I'm aware, they don't eat them anywhere else. Though they are clearly (to me at least) a cross between German and Russian food.

Everyone's grandma makes them better than anyone else's but few people under the age of 40 know how to make them, which is both sad and adds to their allure - if you only eat them a few times a year they taste darn good!  Most people make a whole bunch in one day and put them in the freezer, this can be a whole day project and aside from making the house smell vaguely of cabbage, a fun way to spend a long afternoon.

Shortly before Christmas, I went out to my Grandma's house for a visit, dinner and board games (I lost sequence a lot and won rummikub a lot). What was for dinner? Bierocks. I was in heaven. The problem with living so far away from everyone who knows how to make bierocks, is I never get to eat them.

So I needed to learn to make them. I had a consultation with Mom, with Grandma and I dove in. Now, keep in mind this is not a recipe but more like "orally communicated guidelines." Mom and Grandma (paternal) don't make them exactly the same way, so I pieced it together from what they said to figure out what would work for me.

Bierock guidelines


bread dough
ground beef
green cabbage, shredded
garlic, onion are optional 

-Make a non-sweet bread dough (Mom recommended using Pillsbury hot roll mix, Grandma uses some frozen dough for making dinner rolls, or you can go make some dough from scratch. I used the roll mix.)

-While your dough rises, brown ground beef in a large pan with  shredded cabbage, seasoning as desired. Allow meat mixture to cool somewhat.

- When dough is almost ready, grease a larger cookie sheet and preheat oven to 370.

- After dough has risen, take a small ball (bit smaller than a tennis ball) and roll the dough out into a circle. Place about 1/2 cup of meat mixture in the center and pull the corners of the dough up and join them together in the center. Pull the new corners up and join them together, until the dough is sealed and circular (so much as you can, it takes practice to get them a nice shape).

- Flip prepared bierock over onto a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until cookie sheet is full and bake for 20 minutes at 370 or until nicely brown.

- After removing from the oven, baste tops lightly with butter. Repeat until ingredients are depleted.

- Allow to cool and enjoy!

- If you use 1 box of Pillsbury hot roll mix, 1 lb of ground beef and 2-3 cups of cabbage you will get about 7 bierocks.
- Mom shreds the cabbage in a food processor to make it smaller, very few people make their bierocks this way but Mom always receives accolades for "less cabbagey" nature of hers and this is the secret.
- I said the directions to roll the bierocks out, my mom makes them in her hand, but how she does it is completely beyond me, feel free to try that if you're an over achiever!
- Most people like these with ketchup (including me) and some also with mustard, though this isn't strictly speaking traditional. 
- They also freeze very well but I don't think they are as good after being in the freezer.

Does anyone else's family eat these? If so, I want to know about it!


  1. I live in California a d grew up enjoying Bieroks. By the time I wanted to learn how to make them my grandma couldnt remember the recipe. So I did some research a d came up with a recipe. After several batches, I had a grandma approved bierok. Which included dough from scratch. I am quickly becoming known for my bieroks around town.

    1. That's wonderful! How do you make your dough? I have not had a dough from scratch recipe that worked out well yet, even my grandma uses dough assistance and she makes everything from scratch! :)

    2. Super easy recipe
      14 g instant yeast (or 2 pkg)
      1/2 C sugar
      1/2 C oil
      1 1/2 TBL salt
      1 TBL vinegar (super boost for yeast)
      3 1/2 C hot water (best at around 105° definitely use a thermometer and not trust the tap)
      8 C flour
      Mix all together(It will be super sticky and wet.. that's ok)
      then proof for 1 hour (I put a bowl with some water in the micro for 2 min on high- this gets the right temp and humidity to raise the dough)
      After 1 hour I use rubber spatula and "knead" by taking dough from edge of bowl and pushing to the center.. do one time around the whole bowl.
      Heat micro up again same way then put dough into warm microwave and let sit for 1 more hour.
      I sift flour onto my table then using the rubber spatula, scrape sides of bowl while "dumping" onto middle of floured surface. It will still be super sticky. Using a sifter, cover entire top of dough with flour. DO NOT KNEED.
      Roll dough out to giant rectangle and cut into desired sizes, or cut off small bits to roll out individually. I like my bread to meat ratio to not be as heavy in the bread so I get more bread portions from this recipe (18 ct) and my bieroks come out rectangular but no one complains lol
      It may seem like a lot of work, but it's really not.
      I've never been able to bake before and this came out perfect for me the first time. It's a nice soft airy dough and not too sweet