Coal Region Bundookies


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Bundookies (aka “Bundukies”, “Bundukas”, “Lithuanian Meatballs” depending on who you’re speaking with) are a Coal Region comfort food notably in the Schuylkill County section.

These “bundookies” are meatballs made from ground pork rather than ground beef or a mix of meats. 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 here 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 Christmas 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.

As with many recipes, the basics of bundookies are simple: 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 dampen 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 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 Schuylkill County corner of Anthracite country!

Coal Region Bundookies

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Entree, SnackCuisine: Coal Refion, Polish, LithuanianDifficulty: East

A pork meatball popular in the Schuylkill County section of the Coal Region.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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, 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). I often add 2 or 3 Tablespoons of water to the baking pan before sealing tightly with foil.
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