Kraut Bierock (Bieroch)

February 19, 2010 § 26 Comments

It was in the 8th grade when I was introduced to bierocks (German cabbage burgers). I was at a friend’s house for a sleep over and her mom, who was of German descent, was making kraut bierocks for dinner. We helped with the preparation. The whole house smelled so good from the beef and cabbage but nothing compared to the heavenly smell when these golden packets came out of the oven. Ahhhh, good times. I don’t know what got me thinking about these recently but when I described them to the Mister, he mused at me enthusiasm and said I needed to make them.

I don’t know how many people have heard of bierock but at some point in time, many of us have had something similar. Calzones, empanada, cha siu bao, knish and kibbeh are just some examples of other types of meat filled dough/pastry that are baked, steamed or fried. Some round, square, or triangular but all of the same concept.

There are a lot of bierock recipes out there and the one I remembered was primarily cabbage, onions, garlic, ground beef, salt and pepper. The filling can be adjusted to suit one’s taste easily. Want cheese? Sure. Want Italian sausage? Sure. Want diced potatoes or some other kind of veggie? Sure. Want just vegetarian? Uh, sure.

As far as the dough, several ways to handle that. You can go homemade, like I did with the recipe below, or use store-bought dough. It could be frozen dinner roll dough, frozen pizza dough, crescent roll dough or even puff pastry. But for a German kraut bierock, I recommend either dinner roll dough or frozen pizza dough. 

If you feel adventurous, make your own dough using the recipe below (includes manual and stand mixer instructions) or use your favorite yeast roll or bread recipe. I like the recipe below since it has a good texture and just a hint of sweetness that I think goes nicely with the filling. It also heats up really well, which makes for wonderful leftover or for snacking on. Also freezes well too.

I’ve tweaked the filling recipe to my taste. I like the filling to have more spices than just salt and pepper. Add/omit spices to your taste. The filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to assemble. Best to let it come to room temperature before filling.

Ingredients for Filling:

1 lb ground beef
1 whole cabbage head, cored and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1/2 tsp dry sage
1/2 tsp dry cumin
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Canola oil

In a pan on medium-high heat. Add meat, breaking up meat and cook until raw color is gone. Drain any excess fat and set aside. 

In a large pan, heat oil on medium heat. Add cabbage, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce, cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don’t brown cabbage. Drain off any excess liquid. 

Add cooked beef to cabbage mixture and cook for 20 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is completely softened. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

Ingredients for Dough:

2 C warm water
1 (1/4 oz) packet active dry yeast
6 – 6 1/2 C flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 C unsalted butter, room temperature
Canola or vegetable oil
1/4 C unsalted butter, melted

Add 2 cups of warm water to a large bowl. Sprinkle one packet of yeast over top of the warm water and give it a little whisk. Proof for 5 minutes.

In another bowl measure, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter to flour mixture. Using fingers or a pastry knife, combine butter into flour to form small crumbs. It will still be very floury.

For stand mixer method: 

If using a stand mixer, add 3 cups of flour to the wet ingredients and using the paddle attachment, beat on medium (Speed 4 on most models) for 2 minutes. Continue to add a 1/2 cup at a time, making sure all the flour has been combined after each addition before adding more flour. The dough will start to form around the paddle. If the dough starts to get too stiff for the paddle, change to the dough hook. Continue adding flour until the dough loses its tackiness. The dough should not be wet. You may not need all of the flour.

With the dough hook, knead dough at medium-high (typically Speed 7) for 5 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl and the surface of the dough is smooth.

For manual method:

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well with a heavy handled wooden spoon or spatula. Use hands to combine all remaining flour into dough. Lightly flour work surface. Turn out dough onto work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. 

For both methods:

Lightly oil a large bowl with oil. Put dough into bowl and coat dough with oil. Cover with tightly woven towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in a warm, draft-free place.

Lightly flour work surface. Turn dough out onto work surface and divide dough into half. Place one half back into the bowl. Roll half into a 15 x 10 inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Try to square off the ends but don’t worry too much if the corners aren’t pointy.

Cut lengthwise down the center. A pizza cutter works great for this. Then make 3 even cuts across to make six 5×5 inch squares. Put dough squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat with other half of dough. Each half will make 6, totaling 12.

Place 2 large spoonful of filling in the center of each square. Begin with opposite side of the square, draw the 2 corners together and pinch close. Take the other 2 opposite sides and repeat, now with all 4 corners together. Pinch the side edges together firmly to form the seams of the pillow. There should be no filling peaking out.

Flip pillows over onto baking sheets. You don’t have to line the baking sheet but I like to use either the silicone baking sheets or parchment paper minimize clean-up since sometimes a little liquid may leak onto the pan during baking. Cover with towel and let rise for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F while the pillows are rising.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Here they are right out of the oven. 

And after a brushing of melted butter. Ahhhh, can’t you just smell these?

I can eat 2 but usually pretty darn stuffed after 2. If freezing these, let cool completely and then freeze up to 2 months in the freezer. For reheating refrigerated burgers, easiest way is to use the microwave, heat for 1 mintue on high. If you want the bun to toast up a bit, put it in a preheated oven or toaster oven at 300 degrees F for about 5 minutes. For reheating frozen burgers the fast way, put in microwave for 3 minutes on high (depending on the wattage) then crisp up the outside, bake at 300 degrees F for 5 minutes. Mmm, think I’ll go heat one up now.

§ 26 Responses to Kraut Bierock (Bieroch)

  • Dennis says:

    Hi CAB, wow look how nice they risen! the filling sounds so good..

  • Looks tasty but we have to admit that even though we are both Germans we have never heard of bierocks in Germany before. It might be more a Russian dish (pierrogi sounds very similar).

    • CAB says:

      Hi 2F1J and thanks for stopping by! I looked up the history of bierocks a while back when I was trying to explain it to the hubby and read that the origin of bierocks are a bit sketchy. Wikipedia (I think) mentioned the origin could have been Russian then made its way to Germany and/or Eastern Europe. Whatever the origin is, I know I enjoy these very much! One other thing. When my friend’s mom made it, I recall her saying that it was something her mom used to make for them when growing up (in the U.S.). Also, hers were round, not that it makes a difference. Just thought I’d mention it. 🙂

      • Lau says:

        My grandfather used to make these – he was born in the Volga region and of German descent. He told us how his mother made them. They were popular as field hand food, eaten when lunch was carried out to the wheat fields.

        His family settled in Russell and Katherine, Kansas when they fled Russia in the early 20th century. I would not be surprised to find out that they were popular in areas where the former Volga German families settled.

        Thanks for bringing these to mind. I have not made this generational recipe for many years; guess we will be having them soon!

        • CAB says:

          Hi Lau and thanks for stopping by! I can see how these would be popular with field hands since they are very portable. It would have been great hearing your grandfather’s stories about his generation.

    • Jana Shaver says:

      My Grandfather was German and he would tell us stories about having Beirock Festivals. Then my daughters boyfriend wanted me to make them, but he lives in a Polish Community that has what sounds like the same Festival.
      When I made them for him. since my husband is not a fan of cabbage, I also made them with sauerkraut. Love at first taste! Making a couble batch this weekend!

  • Alan says:

    When I asked my father in law what he wanted me to cook over the Christmas break he started reminiscing about “biddicks” that a friend of his served him when he went off to the navy as a youth. I found your recipe for bierocks and used it to help synthesize my own version. Thanks!

    • CAB says:

      Hi Alan and thanks for stopping by! I’m glad I was of help to get you started on the bierocks. I would be interested to see a post on your version of these. Hope your FIL enjoyed them!

  • BlueyedWolfe says:

    My house is being filled with the most DELICIOUS smell! Im making these right now, and the filling alone, WOW I have nibbled myself till Im full on the filling! This and some hot potato salad are on the menu for dinner! I think hubby will be PLEASED!!

    • CAB says:

      Hi Blueyed Wolf and thanks for stopping by! It doesn’t take much to get filled up on all that cabbage and onions but I know what you mean. It’s so addictive. Yum, hot potato salad sounds perfect for these. Hope your husband enjoys his meal!

      • BlueyedWolfe says:

        He loved them!! And they made a great lunch the next day too! Im actually making the dough again and just using it as rolls to go with the schnitzel tonite!

        • CAB says:

          I’m so glad to hear that he enjoyed them! They do make excellent leftovers. I’ve even freezed them and then heated up in a microwave (frozen). The roll doesn’t quite have the same texture but it’s still delicious. Oh, homemade schnitzel! Sounds fantastic!

  • BlueyedWolfe says:

    So we love this sooo much, that I did a test run a month ago and made it into a braided loaf. Turned out sooo good, that I dried it an used it for dressing. Best dressing I have EVER made or had. PERIOD. SO guess what Im in the process of doing right now, for Thanksgiving!! 😀

  • Jeanne Hanthorn says:

    My “Beer Rocks” contain sausage, bacon, sauerkraut, and dry onion soup mix. Thy have been a Christmas tradition at our house for years.

    • CAB says:

      Hi Jeanne and thanks for stopping by. I love the idea of sausage and bacon. The Mister wants sauerkraut in them next time I make them. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Rachael says:

    Thank you CAB for the recipie. I am part German and have had these all my life but somewhere along the line someone in the family called them something different. Anyways, I just recently started looking up reciepes using the correct name (Bierocks) and have found so many different ways people prepare them, but none of them seemed to match the way we always made them until I saw the pictures of the dough and how you pinch it up. It’s exactly the way we do it and for some reason that made my day:) It was just nice to know someone out there does it the same way.

    • CAB says:

      Hi Rachael and thanks for stopping by and commenting! I’m glad I could make your day. 🙂 I know what you mean about all the various recipes out there and how different they all are. I remember seeing an episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” where one restaurant made these the exact same way but they also added sauerkraut to the meat mixture. I thought that was a nice addition and I think I might try that next time.

  • Alex says:

    My great grandmother related this recipe, and my family have always made them, but we all thought she was saying “Groutbrook”, which made very little sense when I started trying to figure out the German meaning of it. A quick Google search shows that I’m not the only one, though!

    Also, our dough was a lot more sweet. Sweet enough to make cinnamon rolls with the leftovers.

  • Jeani Anderson says:

    Hello, how fun to find your post on making Bierochs or Bierocks. My grandmother came from Sweden and she used to make them. I am wondering if someone from a Russian and German descent came to visit her and either let her taste the delicious sandwich or gave her a recipe. My grandmother’s roll recipe was delicious but perhaps more sweet than your recipe. My grandmother used two pronunciations when referring to these treats. One was similar to the post above from Alex – Groutbrook and she also said Bierocks in her Swedish accent. Either way, the end result is always delicious.

    Thank you CAB for posting the story along with excellent directions and pictures for making these delicious bierocks. Last night, my husband took me on a date and we had a Swiss Mushroom Runza in Lawrence, Kansas. Yummy. It is wonderful to find good food tucked in all corners of the world.


    • CAB says:

      Hi Jeani and thanks for stopping by to comment. When I did a search for the origins of these delicious sandwiches, it seems like the only agreed upon thing was that the origin was not clear. Whomever created these and to those that shared these across generations and continents, one thing is for sure, they have great history and a delicious following.

      As you and Alex mentioned, I recall the dough being a bit sweeter in the original ones I had but this recipe is not as sweet as I recall. Of course that certainly is an easy fix!

  • […] Here’s the recipe I worked from: […]

  • JY says:

    I believe these are Volgaduesch in origin, or were brought here from Russia by them. A lot of farmers know how to reheat these on their tractor motors, they need to be wrapped in tinfoil and don’t get to close to the turbocharger. Every church cookbook I’ve ever seen in our area has a recipe for these though called sometimes Kraut Birrock.

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