Monday, November 21, 2011

Cabbage Burgers (or Kraut Kuga)

My maternal grandmother was German and made a few iconic German dishes in her day. My personal favorite was kraut kuga (or cabbage burgers). She only made them once a year, so they were a real treat. She left this earth without writing down the recipe, so over the years, I've come up with my own. For me, the best ingredients are those I have a hand in, so I try to always plant cabbage in my garden every year, and we cut up our own beef - which we purchase from a rancher we know in central Nebraska - so I know where that beef comes from. If possible, I get onions from my neighbor's garden, since we don't grow any ourselves. I usually make up a huge batch in the fall and freeze a ton...and we enjoy them throughout the winter months.

Kraut Kuga (from ~DKBB~ via Marie M. Amend Cox)
2 36-count packages of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
4 pounds of lean ground beef, browned and drained
Canola oil
3 heads of cabbage (I use purple, cuz that's what we plant), sliced/diced small
2 to 3 onions, diced small
Salt and Pepper to taste

Filling:
  • Brown and drain ground beef, set aside.
  • Add 2 to 3 Tbsp. oil to large frying pan (with lid), heat a bit, then add the cabbage, cooking until it is tender (no longer crunchy); you may need to fry the cabbage in batches, depending on the size of your pan.
  • In a separate medium frying pan, add 1 Tbsp. oil and fry the onions until they are translucent.
  • In a very large bowl (or multiple bowls , if you don't have anything really big), mix the ground beef, cabbage, and onion together; add salt and pepper to taste (it does take quite a bit of each)
Rolls:
  • Thaw rolls per package instructions (takes 3 to 5 hours) on cookie sheets
Creating the Kraut Kuga:
  • When rolls are thawed and risen, take them one at a time and roll them out flat, add about one good sized ice-cream scoop of the filling to the middle of the flat roll, then pull up the side to cover the filling, pinching the top shut.
  • Place the filled kraut kuga pinched side down on a cookie sheet. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (if you are using air-bake cookie sheets, plan on 18 to 22 minutes).
  • Cool completely before packaging for freezing. To package for freezing, wrap each kraut kuga individually in plastic wrap, then place 9 wrapped kraut kugas in a gallon zip loc freezer bag. Place them flat to freeze.
  • To reheat in microwave: remove the plastic wrap, place the frozen kraut kuga pinched side up on a microwave safe plate, heat at a power of 3 for 2 minutes then turn it over and heat for an additional 45 seconds on high (adjust times and power levels if you are heating up more than one at a time). Be careful as the inside will be very hot!
Granted in real German cooking of this dish, the kuga (or bread) is a homemade sweeter tasting bread, but I have chosen to take the easy route by using the frozen Rhodes dinner rolls...they taste good and are way the heck easier than making my own bread dough. 

So next Oktoberfest, little ones, rolls up your sleeves, pour yourself  big ol' stein o' beer, and make yourself a batch of kraut kuga!