One of my favourite genres of hacks is “elevating” the store-bought. Making a box of cake or brownie mix taste homemade, zhooshing up mayo, using fast food chicken to make chicken salad — this kind of stuff is extremely my bag, baby.
Store-bought dinner rolls are ripe for this kind of riffing. Standard mods include brushing them with butter (usually garlic butter) and putting stuff (herbs and cheese and such) on top of them, but you can get even weirder with it, and you should. After all, you just saved a whole bunch of time by outsourcing the dough; you can take an extra moment to zhoosh.
Mix up (and layer) your fat
Before popping the rolls in the oven to warm them — and you should always warm them — melt a little fat and brush it on the tops of the rolls. Buttered rolls are the go-to for a reason: Butter tastes good, but other fats taste good, too, and it would be a mistake not to give them a chance.
Melted duck fat, chicken schmaltz, and bacon grease can be used to infuse your bread with smokey, savoury flavour. Just brush them on like you would butter. Then, when they come out of the oven, give them another brushing. You can keep the fat the same — and do double duck fat or bacon grease — or you can mix it up and finish them with butter or, if you want a savoury-sweet experience, honey butter (or any of the butters from this butter flight).
Put soft stuff inside them
The best dinner rolls are browned on top, but putting fresh herbs, garlic and other toppings on the outside of your dinner rolls can lead to those herbs and toppings burning (or falling off). Putting that stuff inside the bread prevents this, softening the herbs rather than scorching them; and melting, rather than browning, any cheese.
It’s easiest to do this with rolls that come fully cooked and attached (like King’s Hawaiian), because you can slice through the whole lot of them all at once (just like we do for these breakfast sliders). Cut the rolls in half, taking care to not separate them from each other, then brush some fat on both sides. Sprinkle your herbs, your cheese, your pulverised garlic, etc. onto the bottom half, then place the other half back on top. Brush the top with fat and finish with crunchy flakes of salt, or Parmesan (a cheese that tastes pretty good when browned), before popping them into the oven or under the broiler for browning.
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