With another holiday season upon us, I would guess everyone spends just a little bit of time thinking of their own family’s traditions of Christmas Past. My list is rather short, both because my mother was not the “tradition” sort – or maybe I should say, her own list too was a short one – and because the few holiday goodies that my mother would make each Christmas time just never much appealed to me.
Occasionally, she’d do a fruitcake, but even she didn’t like the result, so there was no fruitcake tradition in our house. But she did do stollen every year – only god knows why, she certainly wasn’t German – but I think she did it because stollen is basically an easy make, and it fits as a sort of festive eatable, so we had stollen every year. I never liked stollen! Out of a inner sense of familial guilt, when I was off on my own, with my own family, I tried to resurrect stollen as a Christmas tradition, but still it didn’t click with me – can’t speak for the kids or my wife – but nobody asks for it now.
Here’s one annoying thing about stollen – our kind has an icing on top, and if eaten on day one, it’s fine. But, on day two and beyond, it must be either toasted or heated to be decent, and that is always a royal mess. The toaster oven gets crusted with melted icing, and the icing disappears in the process. Not only have you just made a potential hour long cleaning project, but you lost the “crown” off the stollen. You may as well simply peel it off and throw it away before toasting. Whatever – not a tradition in our house.
But there was one thing that we associated with the Christmas season, and again, only god knows why – Bacon-Onion Rolls. As my mother would make them, they were a simple bread dough, looking a bit like a mini calzone, and well stuffed with a mixture of chopped onion and bacon, and ground pepper. Never would we be without these at Christmas, and they were extraordinarily popular, but we never saw them at any other time – only Christmas.
Now, I know this treat didn’t just pop up in my mother’s head one fine day – she wasn’t that kind of gal. And I’ve spent a good deal of time searching online for a clue as to their heritage. And I think finally I may have found it – Lasinuociai – Lithuanian Onion-Bacon Rolls. The big difference between these and those my mother made is she would never have used a half cup of fresh dill in hers – but then, where would she have gotten a half cup of dill at Christmas time? Besides, there is no evidence that in Lithuania, these rolls have any Christmas significance – so, the mystery continues.
For anyone interested, this is how I go about making my version each year:
Drfugawe’s Bacon and Onion Rolls
You’ll need some sort of bread dough – I use a rather rich, eggy, dinner roll type of dough, but any kind of bread dough will work, even the frozen stuff.
Mix the following together:
2 large, or 3 medium size onions, chopped fine (not a good idea to use the food processor, since it reduces the onion to dripping mush, and changes the flavor).
½ lb of a good, smoked bacon, diced into 1/4” pieces.
1-2 Tbs of freshly ground pepper.
This mixture is sautéed over a medium low heat until the onions are soft and the bacon is cooked, but still soft as well (don’t brown it) – I’ve found that they can both cook together – add the pepper and mix well.
For the dough prep, you have three choices – I use ’em all:
One is a simple Parker House Roll treatment, as in the pic above (you roll out the dough to 1/2” thick, and cut it into small rectangles about 2” x 4”). Then place a Tbs of the mixture on each, and fold over and press to seal – don’t worry that the seal won’t hold, it won’t, and they’ll still look good.
The second way is to pull off small balls of dough about golf ball size, and flatten them with your hand – fill as before, and fold over and seal edges with a fork (this time, make sure the seal is tight.).
The third way is to roll out the dough into a rectangle, say about 12” x 5”, and 1/3” thick – then spread a thin layer of the mixture on the rectangle and roll it into a 12” long “rope” – cut the rope into 1” slices – lay them flat on the baking sheet.
In all the above, move the formed rolls to a greased baking sheet, cover with a moist towel, and let rise until doubled in size. When risen nicely, paint the roll tops with a beaten egg and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until golden brown (times will vary, so go by color – that works!).
These are great as party appetizers, especially made smaller than above. Since they’re savory, they make excellent drink partners – additionally, they are unusual but easy on your party budget. And they freeze well, so make ’em up ahead – say for New Year’s – and pop them into the freezer – a guaranteed party hit!
Oh yeah, that reminds me – here’s wishing you all an absolutely wonderful holiday time.