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Sandwich Precursor: the Bierock

January 6, 2011 7:07 am ยท Posted by Nancy Einhart

What began as a pocketful of beef and cabbage eventually led to the Reuben we know and love today. Similar to the Cornish pasties popular in Michigan by way of Cornwall, the bierock is a sort of German calzone made from yeasty dough stuffed with beef, cabbage, and onions.

This portable sandwich precursor arrived in the Great Plains thanks to Germans who migrated from Russia to the Nebraska and Kansas farmland. Cabbage is a classic cold weather crop, and bierocks can warm you right up. The name bierock is probably related to the Russian pirozhki, another type of meat-stuffed dough dish. Perhaps not coincidentally, one of the several origin stories about the Reuben sandwich (more on that later) starts in Nebraska.

Baked in a half-moon or bun shape, bierocks are also called cabbage burgers, something my house boy remembers from growing up in Wyoming and is always threatening to make. Other fans refer to it as a runza, which inspired an entire chain of "ovenstuff'd sandwiches" in Nebraska. These oblong baked sammies look suspiciously similar to the cheesesteak pretzels that debuted last year.

Have you ever been to Runza or eaten a cabbage burger or bierock?

Source: Fork Fingers Chopsticks

posted by

I WILL make cabbage burgers. Oh yes, I WILL!

Cabbage burgers were at every town carnival or street fair when we were kids. Not coincidentally, our area of Wyoming in the Big Horn Basin was partially settled by Germans looking for farmland. In fact, little known yet very true, German settlers in Wyoming coined the term Hefeweizen from the beer they brewed from surrounding wheat fields.

Okay, that's not true. But I did eat a lot of cabbage burgers as a kid.

So sayeth The Andrew.

posted by Bierock love

Love Bierocks as they are called in Kansas!
Love em and have to make em once in awhile... I like them as the simple recipe though- no mushrooms or other additives, just cabbage, onion and burger like I had as a child. We used to have them homemade by old German women in our school cafeteria. This was in the 70's but I believe some of the smaller towns still have these lovely favorites on the school menu and all the kids love em as they always have.


Hi Nancy. Glad you liked my cabbage burger post and hope that you make them at some point. Would you please add a photo credit to this post? I was going to email you but had to do some sort of registration.

Great blog and like the sandwich focus. I'll be back to check you out. - Andrea

posted by

Hi Andrea,
There is a photo credit! And a link in the text. I hope that is ok. Thanks for stopping by!

posted by Kerry D

My mom made a HUGE batch of these one time when I was a kid. They were totally foreign to us, growing up in California! Loved them and would like to give it a try myself.

posted by jory long

i LOVE cabbage burgers! i ate them all the time as a kid growing up in nebraska.

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