Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Runza" casserole

around this part of the country we have a fast food chain called "Runza".  it's a pretty typical burger joint with the usual accompaniment of chicken, salads & fries.  and while i would say that they are decently good, the real thing that i love (and miss terribly since going gluten free) is their name sake, the Runza sandwich.  

ground beef, onions & cabbage rolled up in homemade bread.  i like mine with cheese.  or swiss & mushrooms.  both are very good.  

and while they are super yummy, the place isn't exactly cheap.  especially for a family with growing boys.  so, i copied my momma (such a smart lady) and made some at home.  after all, a head of cabbage costs, what? .80 cents?  

now, you could take the time to roll out your dough and fill all the individual sandwiches (which i've done before), but i find it a whole lot easier to make it as a casserole.  

Runza Casserole
1 1/2 lbs (or so) ground beef
1 onion
1 head of cabbage
salt & pepper
seasonings (i like thyme, sage & marjoram)
bread dough or crescent rolls
toppings: cheese, mushrooms, etc.

brown your onions and ground beef in a large pot over a medium heat, making sure your meat is completely cooked.  chop your cabbage, add cabbage & seasonings to your pot and reduce the heat to low.  cover and allow cabbage to wilt and cook, stirring occationally.  once cooked, pour into deep 9x13 pan or 2 9x9 pans.  top with your bread dough or a couple tubes of crescent rolls.  bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until top is golden and filling is warm.

i like to use both red & yellow onions.  i think it makes the flavors interesting and, well, those are what i have left from my garden last year (yes, i still have onions in my basement from September).

when you chop your cabbage, you don't have to mince it.  i like to cut it into quarters and then chop each quarter into thin strips, then just slice through the strips here and there so i don't have long cabbage "noodles".

this is what a whole head of cabbage looks like chopped.  it's a lot.  cuz that's a big bowl.  see my 10" chefs knife laying next to it?  yeah, it's a lot of cabbage.

oh, and when using that whole head of cabbage, make sure your pot is big.  i have a 6 qt stock pot and it all barely fits.  stirring is a bit tricky.  but don't be afraid of a mess.  messy cooks are the best cooks.  :)

while crescent rolls are super tasty and easy, i don't have that luxury since they are chuck full of things my family can't eat.  so we have found Bob's Red Mill Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix is a great alternative.  while my cabbage is cooking, i mix it up.  then i plop globs of it on top of the filling and spread it flat with a table knife.  

tada!  all pretty and golden, fresh from the oven.  

p.s. while the process might sound long and intense, it really isn't bad.  i like to make it earlier in the day, and keep it in the fridge until about 30 minutes before supper, when i pop it in the oven.  or i will go ahead and bake it and then toast it up a little before we eat.  and because it makes a lot, this is a great recipe to split into 2 pans and take one to someone who might need a night off from cooking.

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