I hope I get to your table in time for you to make these tasty dinner rolls three ways, because they should be on your Thanksgiving menu. I’m serious! They will be a hit. If you can’t fit them into your cooking and baking schedule for the day, plan on making them the day before, freeze them in freezer bags (I vacuum pack them) and defrost outside of the bags a couple of hours before your Thanksgiving dinner. That’s exactly what I am doing.
Thanksgiving means different things for different people. For some, it means a few days off, a long weekend to relax and restore. For others, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, for all the blessings, for friends and family, for graces. For others, Thanksgiving is all about shopping, getting a bargain, the electronics, or simply, getting ahead with Christmas shopping and decorating. And for most, Thanksgiving means food, the turkey, the pumpkins and squashes, the myriad of side dishes that somehow taste better on this day, and the gravy and stuffing, and of course, the pies. Ah, the pies! And yet, at my house, I know of one person, or a few, in my family, for whom the favorite thing at the Thanksgiving table is none of those, but the bread. For years I have been making popovers, a favorite among my children. I almost never plan for it, and it’s only after the turkey comes out of the oven and I am busy preparing the gravy that I remember about the popovers and frantically start preparing them as I’m whisking away the gravy on the stove. It’s always a crazy and nerve-wracking moment, after the turkey comes out of the oven, and so many dishes have to be warm and ready.
So this year, I have decided to forgo the popovers. I don’t know if my children will be very disappointed, but I hope they’re not, because instead, I’m making these beautiful, delicious, dinner rolls that look more like bread knots. And I am making them in three different versions: one batch will be glazed with butter and honey, another batch will be garlicky, brushed with a mix of extra-virgin olive oil infused with garlic and parsley; and a third batch, while brushed with this same oil, will be sprinkled with a mixture of black and regular sesame seeds. The buns, when brushed and glazed, look kind of a gooey, but when they come out of the oven, they don’t anymore. Instead, they look like perfectly puffed knots. I made these savory rolls a few days ago and they were a success. I’m planning ahead this time, and making them the day before, and when the turkey comes out of the oven, I will concentrate on the gravy, and on sharing in the festivities with everybody at the table.
On that same theme of being prepared, guess what is the first thing I always do when I host Thanksgiving? I set the table! It somehow gives me peace of mind that, if nothing else, people will be able to sit at a beautifully decorated table, and then everything will taste even better. This year I decided to go with a rustic, neutral palette of greens, off-whites, and other neutrals, a very seasonal table that feels special but at the same time casual and relaxed.
This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for everybody that will sit at the table, the children in college that are back for a few days, and the adults that have been getting together for as long as their children’s age.
I hope this recipe of dinner rolls three ways becomes a favorite at your table, and gets to you in time for the holiday.
DINNER ROLLS THREE WAYS
Panecillos de Tres Maneras
For 16 rolls
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp active yeast (1/2 packet)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs parsley, minced
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs sesame seeds (I used 1 Tbs regular and 1 Tbs black)
In a medium saucepan, simmer the milk on low heat. Add 2 Tbs of butter, stirring until it melts in the milk. Add 1/4 cup honey and stir until it dissolves. Let cool a bit. When the milk mixture is barely over room temperature, sprinkle the yeast over the top. Stir gently then let the yeast sit and foam for at least 10 minutes.
Once the yeast looks foamy, add in the egg and salt. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand up mixer fitted with the bread hook and turn the mixer on low. Slowly add the flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides and starts forming a ball but is still somewhat sticky. Once the dough pulls away from the bowl, stop the mixer. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rise for 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the bowl onto a slightly floured surface. Punch the dough down, flatten slightly, and cut into 16 equal pieces with a knife. Gently roll each piece between your hands into a short rope and tie into a knot. Place the rolls on the parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart, and cover with a lightly dampened tea towel. Allow the rolls to rise a second time for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter and whisk in 2 Tbs honey. In a second saucepan, melt 2 Tbs butter and add the olive oil and garlic. Cook over low heat until the garlic softens, 10 minutes. Add in the minced parsley, cook for 2 minutes, and remove from the heat.
Once the rolls have risen the second time, remove the towels and gently brush one third of the rolls with the honey butter. Brush the remaining rolls with the garlic oil and sprinkle half of them with the sesame seeds Bake the rolls for about 10 minutes until golden brown. Wait a few minutes before serving.