Bundookies (aka “Bundukies”, “Bundukas”, “Polish Meatballs” or “Lithuanian Meatballs” depending on who you’re speaking with) are a Coal Region comfort food. These “bundookies” are meatballs made from ground pork rather than ground beef. They are not to be confused with Lithuanian Bacon Buns which are sometimes graced with the same moniker– again, depending on who you are speaking with. Lithuanian Bacon Buns are technically “lasineciai“.
Bundookies abound at church picnics, block parties, and ethnic fests in the Schuylkill County area and in the Coal Region. They can be found at local kielbasa shops, delis, and some lunch establishments or corner eateries.
Often a staple in Coal Region homes around the holiday season, there are “best bundookie” contests like the one to benefit the William “Babe” Conroy Memorial Scholarship Fund, (“Babe” was a baseball coach at Shenandoah Valley High School for 16 years and passed away in 2015) held in Shenandoah, Pa. The contest proceeds go toward a scholarship fund awarded to a Senior Shenandoah Valley Baseball Player who has played all four years and will be continuing their education in college or technical school.)
Bundookies even made an appearance at the 2018 Bloomsburg Fair by way of a “Skook Sundae” consisting of layers of gourmet mac and cheese, pulled pork, and a bundooki. (Offered by The Rolling Macaroni Food Truck, based in Mahanoy City, Pa.)
As with many recipes, the basics of bundookies are they are meatballs made from pork with added ingredients, but every cook has “their” secret for making them. This recipe is just one version. Feel free to alter it to the tastes of your family. Some cooks use soaked bread rather than the cracker crumbs called for here. Some use raw onions in the mix, whereas this recipe calls for sauteing the onions first in bacon grease for an additional layer of flavor.
The mix should be moist, you might want to lightly moisten your hands with water when shaping the bundookies. I find I like to turn the bundookies often when browning them to keep their cylindrical shape. I like to use two forks when turning rather than a spatula. The Bubdookies get finished in the oven where they steam and develop flavor; the frying step is only to brown the surface, not to cook them through.
Some people enjoy their bundookies with sour cream sprinkled with dill. Many folks, me included, love them served with mashed potatoes and creamed corn. However you make them, whatever you call them, their are beloved in our corner of Anthracite country!
Coal Region BundookiesCourse: Entree, SnackCuisine: Coal Refion, Polish, LithuanianDifficulty: East
A pork meatball popular in the Coal Region and on holiday tables.
1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs
Splash of milk to wet crackers
2 pounds fresh ground pork
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon. salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground. allspice
2 medium onions, very finely chopped
All-purpose flour for lightly dredging the meatballs
Bacon grease for frying onions and (if desired) meatballs
- Fry the very finely chopped onions in some bacon grease until soft and golden. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In a mixing bowl, place crushed crackers and add a splash of milk, enough to moisten the crackers and make a “mush” the consistency of cooked oatmeal.
- In the same bowl, add the remainder of ingredients except the all-purpose flour and mix well until thoroughly blended. Mixture should be soft.
- Form in 1 inch thick, 2 inch long shapes (oblong, not round). Dredge in the all-purpose flour, shake off excess. Quickly pan fry in some bacon grease, or oil or lard until browned on all sides gently turning while browning (You are just browning the surface, not cooking them through at this step. You will finish cooking these in the oven.)
- Place in a covered casserole dish or baking pan covered with foil and bake at 350F degrees for 45 minutes or until cooked through (depends on the size of the bundookies).
- Bundukies photo from Skooknews.com
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I’m Lori Fogg
“A Coalcracker In The Kitchen”
Born and raised “a coal miner’s daughter” in the Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania, I love to share recipes and memories of home with fellow “coalcrackers” and celebrate our unique blending of Eastern European and Pa. Dutch heritage and cuisines here in northeast Pennsylvania.