Runza

When I think of yummy comfort food – I think of Runza’s.

Problem is, lots of people have no idea what I’m talking about. We have Runza restaurants in Nebraska, Kansas and even in Colorado. But no where else to my knowledge. If you know what a Runza is, don’t you find it difficult to explain what it is? This is usually how it goes-

Me: I love Runzas!
Friend: A what?
Me: A Runza! They are so great – you should try one!
Friend: What is it?
Me: It’s this thing  – we make them in Nebraska (where I’m from) and there are even restaurants where all they serve are Runzas!
Friend: (looking serious puzzled because obviously I’m not doing a good job explaining Runzas)
Me: It’s like a little bun filled with meat and cabbage and onions and seasonings – and the really good ones put cheese and mushrooms in it. (I start salivating just thinking of the Runza yumminess)
Friend: So, do you make them?
Me: Nope. But my mom and my mother-in-law do.

For a girl who loves runzas so much, I’m surprised at myself that I’ve never made them before! So guess what? I finally tried it!

Runza Recipe

Dough:
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour2 packages rapid-rise or instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt

Filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 small head cabbage, cored and chopped (about 3 cups)
salt and pepper
8 slices American cheese

1. For the dough: Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray. Mix the water, condensed milk, oil, sugar and egg in a large measuring cup. Mix the flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low, add he water mixture. After the dough comes together increase the speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface, shape into a ball, and place in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
2. For Filling: Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef and cook until just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes, breaking up any large clumps. Using a dotted spoon, transfer the beef to a paper towel lined plate.
3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and toss until just beginning to wilt, 2 to 4 minutes. Return the beef to the pan and season with salt and  pepper.
4. To assemble and bake: Adjust two oven racks to the upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Working on a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece of dough into a 7 inch circle. Place one dough round in a deep cereal bowl and top with one slice of cheese. Spoon 3/4 cup filling over the cheese and pinch the edges of the dough together to form a bun. Transfer the bun, seam side down, to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, cheese, and filling. Cover the buns with plastic wrap until puffed, about 20 minutes
5. Bake the buns until golden brown, about 20 minutes, switching the sheets position in the oven about halfway through.

Yum! Not gonna lie, though, these are a bit labor intensive because of the homemade dough.

I know from experience – I made them, but was too impatient with the dough rising process and dinner turned into an epic fail! But the house smelled great and the filling was amazing!

And that, my friends, is why there are no fun pictures to share. My runzas were a disaster – so please remember, this is a great recipe, but it does require a full cup of patience!

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