The James Beard Foundation’s word on wiches states that the runza is the official sandwich of Nebraska, described thusly: a yeast-dough pocket filled with ground beef, onions, sauerkraut, and seasonings. It is also called a bierock. Cool name, methinks.
Along-for-the-Ride Heidi (H7) was the first to tell me about the runza, a delicious torpedo-shaped meat, cabbage and onion turnover sort of thing that migrated from Nebraska to Colorado about 30 years ago.
In H7’s words:
I can’t remember the first time I tried Runza. I think it was fairly soon after a Runza franchise opened in my home town of Loveland, Colorado, in 1983. (I never put 2+2 together that the sandwich was a lower-case-r runza.) Runza® started in 1949 in Lincoln, Nebraska—there is a nice history on the website (www.runza.com).
From first taste, I loved the runza so much. It is ground beef with cabbage and onions and peppery spices baked inside a rectangular shaped bread pocket. I would usually get the cheese option, which is the aforementioned with a slice of cheese inside.
When I moved to California in 1988, my parents sent me a dozen frozen runzas on dry ice (or maybe Runza did it for them) at my request, so I could enjoy them from afar.
In these parts, should you want a runza – and I do! – there are lots of recipes on the internets, naturally. I like this one and will run it as a Lunch Encounter special just as soon as the weather turns the corner to cool.
Nebraskan Runza – Bierocks – Recipe here.