Things continue to be bad and when things are bad I. Want. Some. Comfort. Food. So this week my mom was like “fuck it, we have some cabbage, we’re making bierochs”. (she didn’t say fuck it, but her soul did.)
If you’ve known me for awhile you might have heard me talk about the very weird and oddly specific ethnic group I belong to, the “Germans from Russia” or the Volga Germans. Or the German Russians. Look, some German people settled in Russia, then got kicked out of Russia by Stalin because they were German. Or they got thrown in the Gulag. Not my family though, they immigrated around 1900 to….Fresno. I guess it was better than the Gulag.
I joke, but honestly I think it’s interesting to learn about one’s heritage and culture, and to honor cultural traditions. Growing up we usually had an Oktoberfest party at my grandparent’s house (an American one, which basically means I sat around eating sausage while grown-ups drank beer) and my granddad usually made bierochs. He made them other times of the year too, sometimes at Christmas, or just for the hell of it. So once again this is NOT technically my recipe BUT SHUT UP IT’S MY FAMILY SO I HAVE CLAIM TO IT. To be fair, the original recipe is one of those recipes you get from your grandparents that’s very vague and kind of weird (it said heat your oven to 350 to 375 degrees????? WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN!!!!) so I made some tweaks that made it much easier to follow.
What the fuck is a “bieroch” you might ask. Well a “bieroch” (or “beerrock” as it’s sometimes spelled. We always pronounce it “burr-ruck” but that is absolutely NOT the German pronunciation) is one of those foods that has like a thousand different names depending on which European country your ancestors came from. In college I had a friend who one time was like “I’m going to make you all pieroshkis!!” and it turns out they were the exactly the same as bierochs. It’s dough stuffed with shit, okay? Every country on the planet has some variation of dough stuffed with shit. Maybe it’s a dumpling, or a gyoza, or a pierogi (those we had when we visited the OTHER side of my family, shout out to Poland), it’s all dough stuffed with shit.
THIS variation of dough stuffed with shit is essentially a sweet(ish) dinner roll stuffed with meat, cabbage, and onion. They really simple and may seem kind of boring, but I grew up eating them and they remind me of family and home and comfort, and they’re delicious with hot soup. If you’re a vegetarian you can substitute the ground beef with potatoes (just saute them in the pan until they get soft and cooked) Fuck you could even just shove some cheese in there and make a cheese zombie type thing. Do what you want! You gotta try this dough though, it is so pillowy soft and delicious. If you’re vegan, sorry it is an enriched dough. Substitute with a vegan bread recipe?
Bierochs (or Beerrocks, or Stuffed Rolls, or whatever the fuck)
Makes about 15
(This recipe makes a LOT of dough and filling. You can easily halve this recipe, just know that it will still make a LOT of filling so you’ll probably just end up making another batch of dough anyway. But you can freeze them!!”)
Ingredients for the dough:
1 & 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
Melted butter, for brushing on top
Ingredients for the filling:
2 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey etc. We always use beef in my house but whatever gets you going)
1 head of cabbage, sliced and diced into small pieces
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons garlic, crushed
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
*if you want you can omit the whole wheat flour and just substitute it with more white flour, that’s what I did for the ones in the photo because we didn’t have any whole wheat flour.
For the dough:
Combine milk, sugar, and butter, and heat until warm but not hot, between 100-110 degrees F. Stir yeast into the liquid mixture and let it sit until foamy, 5-10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer add whole wheat flour (or half of the white flour if you’re using all white) and salt. Add the milk/yeast mixture to the flour and mix until just combined. Stir in both eggs. Gradually add the other half of the flour until it’s all combined. The dough will seem moderately stiff, almost like soft clay. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and shiny. Place the dough into a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For the filling:
While the dough is rising make the filling. Heat a large pan with vegetable oil and add diced onion, cooking until it becomes soft and translucent. Add the cabbage and garlic and saute, letting it cook down slightly before adding the ground meat to the pan. Cook the ground meat until browned, then add the paprika, salt, and pepper. Using a slotted spoon to drain the grease, transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside until the dough is ready to fill.
Forming the bierochs:
Preheat oven to 375 F. After the dough has risen, turn the dough out of the bowl, punching it down slightly. Roll out the dough until about 1/4 inch thick, then cut into squares measuring about 5 inches each. Place about a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each dough square (don’t overfill!) and bring all the corners of the square into the center, pinching them together to seal in the filling. Turn each filled bieroch over so that the seams are on the bottom. Brush the tops of each with melted butter and let them rest on a greased baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes, or until they’ve puffed up.
Bake bierochs for 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Enjoy as a side with dinner, or just shove them in your face when you feel like havin a snack.