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Recipe Tue Sep 02 2008
I've been in a creative mood lately and eager to try out new recipes--well, not new, but recreations of childhood favorites.
Behold, the Runza:
Its Wikipedia entry defines it the best: "a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, pork, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. [Runzas] are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round (bun), square, or triangle."
The Runza has roots in German and Russian cooking, with its original name, the bierock, being dough with stuffed filling. In Nebraska, a Runza is shorthand for an awesome local fast food experience, with a chain of restaurants of the same name. They sell the normal fare, such as hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and salads of offensive, questionable natures (what is in a "Shanghai Chicken Salad," pray tell?), but the Runza is what you show up for, and they know how to make them: the Italian, Cheese, Cheeseburger, Swiss Mushroom, BBQ Bacon and the BLT varieties currently grace the menu (I literally didn't have the heart to look at their nutritional values).
Runza restaurants are mainly in Nebraska, and I don't make it back there often; I got a hold of an online recipe and spent a morning in my tiny kitchen drowning in flour and ground beef as I made the suckers from scratch. I was expecting that my final product would knock the socks off anything I've ever tasted in the restaurant. It smelled right (cabbage does wonders for flavoring), but it was a misshapen, dry and doughy Runza Frankenstein:
I retreat to my laboratory for further research.