Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Semi-Homemade Runzas

Here's a delicious food that only a select few of my readers will have ever heard of - runzas.  Where my parents grew up in Nebraska, Runza restaurants are about as common as Taco Bell.  Runzas are meat pockets made with beef and cabbage.  May sound a bit strange, but trust me people, these are to die for!  Traditional runzas are pretty much just bread, beef, cabbage, and onion, but you can make lots of different varieties by adding spices, cheeses, and veggies.  I love this recipe because it reminds me of the place my parents still call home (though they haven't lived there in 30 years).  Honestly, with most of my extended family there, it pretty much feels like home to me, too.  If only it weren't so darn far away!  Since I've been craving these like crazy lately, and Michael decided it probably wasn't feasible to drive to Nebraska and back over a cold, snowy weekend, I decided to try my hand at making my own.  This is a pretty simple cheese runza recipe using frozen bread dough, but I also included some of our favorite variations.  They also freeze and reheat perfectly, so it's an awesome make-ahead meal.  Here's how Mama makes it:

Semi-Homemade Runzas

Ingredients: (I actually doubled this, and used 5 loaves of bread - I had plenty of the meat mixture for all 15-16 of them!)
- 2 loaves frozen bread dough
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 head cabbage, chopped/shredded
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 t. salt
- 1 1/2 t. pepper
- 1/2 t. garlic salt
- 2 t. sugar
-1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
for a spicy twist on the classic:  use pepperjack cheese and add jalapenos
for the cheeseburger version:  add chopped pickles (or relish), bacon, and ketchup

1.  Thaw frozen bread dough and let rise according to package directions. (I thawed mine overnight in the fridge - it cuts the rise time in half!  Mine took around 3 hours to rise out of the fridge.)

2.  In a large skillet, brown the hamburger, drain.  Meanwhile, chop the onion and cabbage.

take a moment here to doubt the recipe
and freak out about how much cabbage this is!

beware of sneaky toddlers!

3.  Add chopped  cabbage and onion, cover, and cook over medium heat until cabbage wilts, stirring frequently (took about 15-20 minutes).  Add salt, pepper, and sugar.

4.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Once dough has risen, punch down and roll out to 1/4" thickness.  Cut into 6 pieces, each about 5" x 6" in size.  (I rolled out two loaves at a time, to a 15" x 12" rectangle then cut the 12" in half and the 15" side in thirds)

originally, I cut them more rectangular
but realized a closer to square shape was better after rolling

5.  Add 1/3 c. meat mixture to each piece, then sprinkle with a couple tablespoons shredded cheese. (add additional toppings as desired.)  helpful tip:  be sure to mark the different flavors so no one's surprised by what they bite into!  We put a few pieces of cheese on the outside of the cheeseburger ones and separated the spicy/traditional ones to avoid confusion.

traditional meat and cheese runzas

cheeseburger runzas

spicy jalapeno runza with pepperjack and cheddar cheese

6.  Fold dough pieces over and seal the edges, then place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet.

the first batch wasn't so pretty in terms of uniformity
but they tasted amazing!

7.  Let rise 20-30 minutes, then bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until brown.

8.  Optional:  To freeze, bake for 10 minutes, allow to cool, then wrap in plastic and place in freezer bags, freeze.  When ready to eat, thaw and cook at 375 for 20 minutes.

(after cooking for 10 minutes)

If you love this recipe, check out Making Mama's Kitchen cookbook, now available for pre-sale!!

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