Still on vacation, but delighted to bring you this guest post from Coal Creek Farm’s April Phillips. I am fortunate to have met the real-life April and her sister, too, and can report that they both tower over me like power-blogging amazons, and now I know why – these hearty Bierochs run in their family. Thank you, April! I will try them, and hopefully grow brave, funny, and taller.
Making Bierochs, by April Phillips
I’ve been eating bierochs since I was a little kid. They were part of our school lunch program. Bierochs are a German-Russian food brought over by the Mennonites. A large group of Mennonites settled the plains of Kansas and many of their foods have lingered and rooted into the culture of Kansas. When I made these in Missouri nobody knew what the heck they were. Now that we’re back in Kansas, I say I’m making bierochs, and people ask me if I eat them with mustard, or plain?
I don’t ever remember having a side dish with bierochs. It doesn’t matter, because the bierochs steal the show, but I’ll put a salad or soup with them to round out the meal. Eating a bieroch reminds me of my childhood – the harvest festival that my small town hosted on the brick-paved Maine Street (really is Maine, not Main) every fall would host various booths, and somebody was always selling homemade bierochs. They were a trigger that harvest was done and fall had begun.
Now I have to make them every year. My husband and children start requesting them as soon as the colors on the trees start to change, and we reach into the back of the closet for our sweatshirts. Summer is still in full swing, but I’m starting to grow weary of the heat and the constant watering of the garden. I’m ready for the crisp air of fall, and the smell of fresh bread and beef coming out of my kitchen.
I know you’re going to ask me for a recipe. But I don’t follow a recipe, I just make them – follow along, and you can make them too. Get a big bag or can of sauerkraut. Rinse and drain, then set aside. Chop up a head of green cabbage…chop….chop….chop…
Combine the cabbage and sauerkraut in a large pot, add a bit of water, and put it on the stove to soften the cabbage. See all the liquid in the cabbage afters it’s cooked down? We need to drain that off before we mix it with the beef.
You’ll need meat for bierochs – this year I used our pork sausage and some ground beef. I make a lot of bierochs, so I used about 2 lbs of beef and 2 lbs of pork sausage. Brown it, drain it, set aside.
Chop a large yellow onion, saute in oil until tender and starting to caramelize…I like to taste the sweetness of the onions. Mix the onions with the meat.
Combine the cabbage and beef in a large pot and start to season. You can do just about anything you please – I like to add ground mustard, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Season to your liking, is what I say. In years past, I’ve added a packet of soup mix. You can add cheese, too. Ooh, I love Swiss cheese in a bieroch. This year I left out the cheese, because I have more people in the house that don’t like cheese….but next year, I’m adding cheese.
You can stop here, like I did, and store the mixture in the fridge to work on the dough the next day….or you can start the dough right now. Find a simple wheat or white bread/roll recipe – this year I made whole wheat dough and white dough. If I don’t feel like making the dough, then I buy frozen Rhodes rolls and use them the same way. Here’s the wheat dough after it has risen and is ready to shape.
I quartered the dough, then shaped the sections into logs. Cut the logs into smaller, 1 1/2 inch sections. Then cut those in half. Now the dough is the size I need. I’m thinking that buying the darn Rhodes rolls would be so much easier. But then what would I blog about?
Flatten the dough pieces, then stretch the dough – it needs to be big enough for a big scoop of meat and cabbage, but don’t break it. I use a large scoop, it’s probably 1/4 cup or maybe 2 tablespoon. Are you following me so far? This is how I cook people. It’s learn it, then do it. Put one scoop of cabbage/meat mixture onto the flattened dough.
Now draw up the edges. Start pinching together the dough until the entire mixture is completely encased in dough. Put it on a greased baking sheet and proceed to make 4,598 more. Making bierochs is a commitment. You can’t walk away. You have to be there, scooping, pinching, patting, stretching, scooping, pinching, patting, stretching. ARE YOU CHEF ENOUGH FOR IT!
Bake those babies for 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven and watch your family love you, and then watch as they hate you because you are going to make them eat bierochs at every meal. For the next eight weeks.
Mmmmm. So good.