Sandwich #273–“Wind Chill Factor” Runzas

By 300 Sandwiches

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273runzaLORunzas. Apropos for cold weather nights in front of the television, I baked these meat and cheese packed meat pockets for dinner the other night.

These meat and cheese-filled hand pies are Nebraska staples (they serve them up at fast food joints in the middle of the country as do McDonalds or Burger King with hamburgers). I’ve never had the joy of eating at one of these shops, which perhaps is a sign I’m due for a good ol’ fashioned road trip. A reader suggested I make these a months ago and have been waiting for a cold night in to bake them. Runzas, or bierocks as they’re also called, are perfect winter weather eats. They can be made in a rectangular bun shape, or round, or half moon, like I did mine. The half moon versions give them a Hot Pocket like dimension. But they’re better. Trust me.

Here is the basic recipe, which E loved so much he ate two of them. I’m going to make more of these and mix up the fillings. These are crying out for some bacon, yo. And cheese. More cheese! I’ll also do a vegetarian Indian inspired version because it’s cold outside and our house is full of carrots and greens and spices and no meat and it’s too cold to go shopping so I’ll use what I have!

Crap. I’m out of flour. Gotta go out anyway.

Just when my fingers had thawed from my last trip.

1 1/4 ounce packet of active dry yeast
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
3 3/4 cups flour (I used a mix of white and whole wheat because I ran of whole wheat)
3 eggs
12 teaspoons butter (1 1/2 stick, softened at room temperature)
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt

1 pound ground beef
1/2 medium head cabbage, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon chili power
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or parmesan cheese (optional)
black pepper
1 egg white
1/2 tablespoon water

Make the dough: combine yeast, water and sugar in large bowl. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Next add eggs and whisk. Then add half the flour, then butter and salt, and mix with large spoon until mix comes together. Add rest of flour until all of the dough comes together in a stiff, tacky ball. Place dough in a large, buttered bowl covered for about an hour, and let dough rise.

Then, section dough into 8 sections. Roll dough into 8 small balls, and let rise for another 30 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, make the filling: brown ground beef in large skillet for about 5 minutes until barely browned. remove from heat and scoop meat out of skillet with slotted spoon, draining grease. Pour out most of grease from skillet, and melt a pat of butter in skillet. Toss in garlic, then onion, and cabbage, and brown for about 3 minutes. Add back in meat, add spices and combine together, cooking for another minute.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble runzas: roll our each ball of dough into a flat circle. Scoop a spoonful or two of the meat in the middle. Add cheese if desired. Pull one end of the dough up and over meat and towards opposite end. Seal edges with a fork. Whisk egg white and water in a small bowl to make egg wash, and brush over the top of runs. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and cook in oven for 25-30 minutes. When ready, remove from oven, slice in half and serve. Makes eight pockets.

Who makes the best runza you’ve ever tasted, in Nebraska or beyond? Leave your thoughts below or on our Facebook page!

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