Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, folks! I am so excited. I’ve got my brine cooled and ready to go for the turkey tonight, I’ve got my cranberry chutney made, I’m done with my gravy (because you don’t want to make gravy out of a brined turkey or else you’ll have a bowl of saltiness nobody wants to eat), and I’m making my chestnut stuffing (along with a vegetarian variety made with mushrooms) tonight after work. I am ready to go. All I need to make on the actual day is the turkey, roasted brussels sprouts and squash, a big pitcher of my yearly Thanksgiving cocktail (this year it’s bourbon, apple cider, ginger beer, lemon, and bitters), and a dessert. I’m leaning towards apple cider doughnuts, but we’ll see. After that, I only need to make sure everything is warm. Not so bad, right? It helps that my friends and family are pitching in big time to help make our Thanksgiving a success. I’ve got a grand total of 14 guests this year, and I’m so excited to try what they’re making: vegetarian lasagna (which honestly I think is perfect Thanksgiving food), macaroni muffins, scallion, cheese, and bacon mashed potatoes, ceviche (non-traditional but I love it), miniature apple and pumpkin pies (from my lovely sister-in-law), and monkey bread. I also always put out a big plate of charcuterie, cheese, and crackers, so I think this year’s meal is going to be a big success. Just keep me in your thoughts! This 18-pound turkey is the biggest one I’ve made yet, and I’m just slightly nervous about it. Kramer seems confident, though, so as long as one of us is, we should be good to go. What is on your Thanksgiving menu this year? Inspire me, people!
One last thing that’s on my menu are these Buttermilk Fantails. I accidentally bought 2 containers of buttermilk last week, and after trying to find something on theme to make with the buttermilk (and I already made buttermilk pies), I landed on these. I had never heard of a fantail, but they are essentially pull-apart dinner rolls, and man, they are good. There’s not much that is as satisfying as pulling apart layer after layer of buttery, homemade bread, is there? These hit you on a couple of different levels: the buttermilk and touch of honey add a sweet element, while the sprinkle of sea salt evens out the richness. These fantails are great for setting out as an appetizer, or as a part of your meal to soak up gravy and other deliciousness on your holiday plate. Best of all, you can make these ahead of time, freeze them, and warm them up in the oven the day of your meal, although since we’ve only got one day left, if you make them tonight, just leave them out at room temperature, covered, and pop them back in the oven for a few minutes before you’re ready to serve. Keep these rolls in mind for your December holiday plans, too! They really work for all occasions, and travel well, too – I sent my test run batch into my husband’s office and they were eaten up immediately. I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a ¼-oz package)
- ¼ cup warm water (105–115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ cup well-shaken buttermilk
- First, butter muffin cups with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Stir together the yeast, warm water, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast). I’ve made these twice. The first time, the yeast took forever to foam and I thought I’d have to start over, but I let it sit for a full 10 minutes and it foamed up. The second time it happened much quicker. Just be patient!
- In a large bowl, mix together your flour, salt, buttermilk, and 6 tablespoons of melted butter into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting the surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. I found the best way to knead this dough was to slap it down on the surface, pull it towards me, fold it back into itself, flip it over, and do the same for a solid 6 minutes. Form the dough into a smooth ball, then place it in a clean, well oiled bowl. Turn the ball over to coat well, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a cloth towel. Place in a warm spot, like the corner of your kitchen, and allow to rise until doubled in size about 1.5 to 2 hours.
- When you’re ready, punch the dough down (do not knead it), then halve it. Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch square (about ⅛ inch thick; keep the remaining half covered with plastic wrap). Brush the dough with ½ tablespoon of butter (you may be tempted to use more – do not do this or the rolls will not stick together) and cut into 6 or 7 equal strips.
- Stack the strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 or 7 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup. Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Separate the outer layers of each roll to fan outward, then cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free place until doubled and the dough fills cups, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the rolls until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Brush the tops with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with some sea salt, if you like, then transfer to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. These will keep well in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or you can freeze them after they’ve cooled, store in an airtight container or bag, and warm back up in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so when you’re ready to serve.