Bierocks: A German family tradition


In every family, there are those meals that might not be great to outsiders, but are special in that sentimental, traditional way. There are those dishes that take you back to the memories, like the time your family cooked a pig in a hole in the backyard, Grandma Quackenbush’s really moist banana bread that she always has in the freezer, and that super moist chocolate cake mom cooked in a water bath when the oven was broken.

On my dad’s side, there are a few of those meals. One they grew up on is known as “okie dinner,” where bratwurst and potatoes take center stage. And the other favorite are homemade bierocks, those German popovers stuffed with cabbage, onion, ground beef and spices.

My grandma Nelson made them often. Her kids were raised on them, so naturally they became comfort food. Mom’s food. The best, right?

A couple of weeks ago, my Aunt Jo said she wanted to make them. They had been one my Uncle Jerry’s favorite dishes, which meant it had been in Jo’s best interest to learn the recipe when they got married. So we spent the day watching dough rise and then rolling it out. That evening, my dad and Uncle Brenda came over for a taste of grandma-inspired cooking.

It’s funny how there are rules with traditions. With us, if we were going to have bierocks, we had to have the entire meal — even if I was slightly eerie of the sides that I’m sure I didn’t eat as a child. The bierocks are just as important as the sides:  beans made by my dad, potatoes fried by Aunt Brenda and a pea salad with simply lettuce, canned peas and mayo (omg, like I said, every family has strange food traditions that outsiders wouldn’t touch; this might be one of ours).

Take a peak. Check out the old KitchenAid mixer. Aunt Jo has a brand-new one in the box, but she still uses this old beauty her mother had when she was growing up. It has extra special skills, and dances its way around the counter as it kneads dough. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageSo now it’s your turn: What — delicious or strange — food traditions does your family have?

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7 Responses to Bierocks: A German family tradition

  1. Viktorya says:

    I’m studying German now, but I did not hear about this food before.
    It looks delicious!
    There are similar Russian buns that also have a savory filling. I didn’t know other cultures had those, too.

  2. mairedubhtx says:

    Our German tradition is spaetzle, the German egg and flour noodle that you spoon into boiling water and serve with gravy and roasted pork. My family made it and my first husband’s family made it and now my daughter makes it for her family. The tradition continues.

  3. Pam says:

    This is awesome! It’s the same as a food I would eat growing up when I would visit relatives in Nebraska, only there it’s called a Runza made at a chain restaurant called Runza Hut. I miss those so much. I have made homemade ones before but they just aren’t the same.

  4. Sandy Malloy says:

    HI Lauren, LOVE your blog! I grew up going to Lodi schools, back in the 70’s all the cafeteria cooks were little german ladies. I loved the meat popovers, hot dogs mashed potatoes and sauerkraut and of course the chocolate “mayo” cake. Although I am of hispanic descent, I am german at heart….or is that stomach?

  5. Lodi Ladd says:

    Even through the 80s when I was in school the Lodi Schools still served Bierocks. They were so good! The last place you could buy them in Lodi was Cottage Bakery before they left downtown. I think Richmaid on Cherokee Ln may have them sometimes, I know they still have (German) cheese buttons and German Ribs.

  6. debra trew says:

    well that was a blast from the past and I am sure they tasted great My mom your aunt dorothy loved to make a similar meal and yes they are definately comfort food The only place I get them is my house whwn I make them only I use bridgeford bread dough modern woman that I am lol

  7. Michael N. says:

    Reminds me of my heritage… and makes me appreciate my own KitchenAid which I bought nearly fourteen years ago. I made so much bread and pizza dough before I was married… and my wife has used it for dozens of dozens of cookies and cakes since… which we are cutting back on now. LOL Truly and awesome machine! I love the pasta roller attachments! Homemade noodles any time!

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