A dinner roll to be thankful for.
Oh Thanksgiving. What a fantastic day. A day fully devoted to food. And in my world, slippers and board games. I’ll admit that there were some culinary blah moments: leaky pie crust, not quite right brussels sprouts, a realization that even spending a lot of money on a locally raised heritage bird does not make turkey taste better than the side dishes. But there were some super happy moments: playing the train game, cauliflower caramelized in browned butter with pears and hazelnuts, and most important – Parker House dinner rolls. Yes, just like July 4th.
It was one of those serendipitous moments a month ago, when I was debating about what to serve with Thanksgiving dinner – my usual biscuits, a loaf of brioche, a nice crusty bread. My Saveur magazine came in the mail and I landed on the article where Tom Colicchio shares his recipe for Parker House rolls. I was immediately sold. I grew up on delicious rolls, or at least I think I did. No one actually made them from scratch in my family, so I’m not sure where I got the flavor memory of a delicate, buttery, yeasty roll. But it’s in there and that recipe was tickling that memory. And, my people, they were GOOD. So good in fact, that I made them again the day after Thanksgiving, to make sure I wasn’t blinded by Thanksgiving buffet hysteria.
First I made the dough. I let it rise in the warmest corner of my house and then shaped it into little balls.
I brushed the little balls with clarified butter and let them rise some more, until puffed and filling the pan.
I brushed them with even more butter and baked them until golden. While still hot I brushed them with…even MORE butter and sprinkled them with sea salt.
And then me and John started eating them, one by one. I think these little guys will find a happy home on my Christmas dinner menu…
PARKER HOUSE ROLLS RECIPE (Tom Colicchio, printed in Saveur magazine):
3/4 cup milk, heated to 115°
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp barley malt syrup (I was out and used brown rice syrup)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1¼ oz unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup clarified butter
Fleur de sel, to garnish
– Stir together the milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add to the milk mixture along with the softened butter and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, 5–6 minutes. Transfer dough to a bowl that has been lightly greased with clarified butter and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit until nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour. Uncover and punch down dough. Cover and let sit until puffed, about 45 minutes.
– Heat oven to 350°. Portion dough into sixteen 1 1/2″-diameter balls, about 1.1 oz each, and transfer to a greased 8″ cast-iron skillet or 8″ x 8″ baking pan, nestling them side by side; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Brush with clarified butter and bake until puffed and pale golden brown, 20–22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and brush with more clarified butter; sprinkle each roll with a small pinch of fleur de sel and serve warm.
NOTE: They definitely want to be eaten within the first few hours of being baked, straight from the oven if you can manage.
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