PARKER HOUSE ROLLS by Millicent Souris

These are little fluffy white flour rolls with no nutritional value, so you know they taste good. Their only purpose in life is for you to smear butter on them and stuff them in your mouth. This recipe yields enough for a 10-inch cast iron or a 13 x 9-inch pan. Just like any other bit of fluff, they are stale the next day, so finish them off. The first time I made these was on a day when my employer, Emily, informed me she thought every meal should have bread. She was entertaining some old family friends, and gave me the stare down only an octogenarian can muster. I mumbled, “Lady, you are killing me,” then found this recipe. I substituted leaf lard for butter. Butter doesn’t lend as much lightness. This recipe takes about 3 hours with all the resting. It yields 27 rolls.

2-1/4 t instant yeast, or 1 package yeast

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup leaf lard

3 T sugar

1-1/2 kosher salt

1 large egg, room temperature

3-1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

sea salt

Whisk the yeast with 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees, just a little warmer than your body) in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes. Heat the milk in a small saucepan. Put the leaf lard, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the warm milk and break up the fat as much as possible; it will probably still be lumpy. Whisk in the yeast mixture and the large egg, then add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon (this is where wooden spoons shine!) until a dough forms. Turn the dough out on a floured table and dust your hands with flour. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth, about 4 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough inside. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place for an hour and a half, until the dough doubles in size. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. Seriously, this is the best thing you’re going to do all day. Separate the dough into 3 pieces, each the same size. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll each ball out into a long rectangle. The goal of this rectangle is 12 inches long (one LP length) and 6 inches wide (about a hand’s length). Melt the butter while this is going on. Grease the pan with the butter. Cut each piece of rectangle into thirds lengthwise, about 2 inches wide, then across, about 4 inches long. Each rectangle will give you 9 pieces. Brush the bottom half of each piece with butter and fold each piece almost in half, leaving a little overhang. This little shim in the dough allows you to stack the rolls a bit, like how shingles on a roof overlap one another. If you are using a circular pan, start by placing the rolls near the perimeter, then work your way toward the center, making sure there is no space in between the rolls as you shingle them. I’ve discovered that it doesn’t make a difference if they are odd shapes. If you are using a rectangular pan, make sure you follow the same concept of shingle coverage. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the rolls and let them chill for anywhere between 30 minutes and a few hours. Brush with the rest of the melted butter and season with sea salt. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Serve immediately and eat them all.