Trends Across the Country: Meat Pies

By: Kirsten Vala

To celebrate this year of the Olympics and a presidential election, Cooking Channel asked fans what dishes represent their states and then worked with our kitchens to create original recipes for each of the 50 states. (Read all about the project here.) Each state has its own unique food scene, but we couldn’t help but notice some trends across the map from coast to coast.

As an Omaha, Nebraska native, I was really excited (and a little nervous) when I was called upon during recipe development of Across the Country in 50 State Dishes for my expertise in Nebraskan foods, specifically the beloved Runza. What the heck is a runza? It’s a handheld meat pie, similar to other meat pies that were voted as favorites by our Facebook fans across the country (check out the Michigan Pasty and West Virginia’s Pepperoni Rolls). Only the runza, of Russian and German origin, is filled with ground beef (yeah, Nebraska!), onions and cabbage. And, most critically, it is the specialty of the Midwestern fast food chain, RUNZA.

So there I was, plucked from my cubicle and shuttled up the elevator to the bustling test kitchen, where recipe developers, culinary editors and online folks with notepads and cameras all gathered around and watched as I took a bite of the runza. The dough was tender, slightly sweet and smelled like freshly baked bread; the beef filling was the perfect savory contrast while the cabbage, chunkier than I was used to, added texture and flavor. Mmmm -- It was amazing. As good as fast food runzas are (and I make sure to eat one or two every time I visit Omaha), the homemade version that our test kitchen whipped up was absolutely incredible. I was happy to give it the thumbs up, and now I’m glad you can all try it as well – whether you’re Nebraskan or not, you’re going to love this little meat pie (pictured above).

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Another great update to a favorite was the West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls. On a brief trip to West Virginia I had tried the state's popular convenience store snack. I liked it, but the test kitchen's fresh homemade version, filled with spicy pepperoni and gooey melted mozzarella, was a surprising delight.

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

And of the three, the Michigan Pasty Meat Hand Pie is the most pie-like of all, with a flaky crust (it's made using shortening or lard), chunky filling and half-moon shape. They originated as portable lunches for Cornish miners, but you can make them for a hearty, Michigan-style dinner.

See all 50 dishes and the completed project here: Across the Country in 50 State Dishes.

More from Across The Country
Keep Reading

Next Up

Trends Across the Country: Pie

We took a culinary tour across the country, gathering one recipe to represent each state. During development, we noticed a trend -- delicious, pie recipes.

Trends Across the Country: Much Mexican Food

We came up with a list of America's 50 state foods and noticed a trend across the country: the influence of Mexican cuisine in Southwest states' dishes.

Trends Across the Country: East Coast Seafood

We came up with a list of America's 50 state iconic foods and noticed certain trends across the country, like seafood up the East coast.

Trends Across The Country: Southern BBQ

When it comes to Southern BBQ, styles vary not only from state to state, but city to city.

The Making Of: Across the Country

Go behind the scenes of Cooking Channel's recipe collection of America's best state dishes and read about the recipe development process and photo shoot.

On TV

Unique Sweets

10am | 9c

Unique Sweets

10:30am | 9:30c

Unique Eats

11am | 10c

Unique Eats

11:30am | 10:30c

Man Fire Food

12pm | 11c

Man Fire Food

12:30pm | 11:30c

Man Fire Food

1pm | 12c

Man Fire Food

1:30pm | 12:30c

Man Fire Food

2:30pm | 1:30c

Carnival Eats

6:30pm | 5:30c

Carnival Eats

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Carnival Eats

8pm | 7c

Carnival Eats

8:30pm | 7:30c

Carnival Eats

9:30pm | 8:30c

Carnival Eats

10pm | 9c

Carnival Eats

10:30pm | 9:30c

Good Eats

11pm | 10c

Good Eats

11:30pm | 10:30c

Carnival Eats

12am | 11c

Carnival Eats

12:30am | 11:30c

Carnival Eats

1am | 12c

Carnival Eats

1:30am | 12:30c

Carnival Eats

2:30am | 1:30c

Good Eats

3am | 2c

Good Eats

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot
What's Hot

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

New Episodes Sundays 8|7c

Pick a Side!

The Snackdown

In our new animated series, we debate the most-pressing food matters of our time, like is cereal a soup?

So Much Pretty Food Here