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Mike, I have always cooked mine on a tray. Do the rise, make the balls, spay the tray, and let them proof. Just cook them like you would in a regular oven. I just couldn't bring myself to chasing them around the oven with a peel. There are far better cooks here then me - hopefully we can learn. Great question.
Use a tray whether you are clustering them (like Les) or separating them (restaurant style) - rolls need to come out fast once done. It is incredibly easy to over bake rolls in a normal oven - a wfo will likely be just as easy, if not easier, to over bake in. Remember, rolls should have a light crust, so they are usually ready as soon as they hit the golden stage.
Dinner rolls are usually sweet breads although only mildly sweetened. It's also nearly impossible to bake too many if the recipe is good. I usually have an extra pan ready to go in the oven in case.
Make your dough well ahead, even if you have to freeze it. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner requires a lot of coordination just in terms of cooking/baking order, not to mention prep times. Making dough the day of is suicide unless you have a very limited menu. I'd make my dough on Wednesday so long as I was only cooking for 10 -15. More than that and I'd be making dough now!
If you aren't in charge of the turkey, run your plans past your wife. Miscommunication can result in overdone rolls, underdone turkey, and sleeping on the couch for extended periods of time. Seriously, make sure you're on the same page or you're going to make each other miserable trying this.
Two per person is a good rule of thumb but for a big meal like Thanksgiving you're probably better off going 2 1/2 or 3. If setting them out before the meal begins I'd bake 2/3's and hold the rest in reserve (most roll recipes freeze fine if you end up not baking them). If serving with the meal I'd bake 1/2. People will eat more if you put them out early (which helps stretch out small turkeys but with only 6 - 8 you shouldn't have that problem). They will also want them during the afternoon leftover grazing (the real reason for football on Thanksgiving is so the guys will hang around long enough to finish off as much as possible! ) so you can bake the reserve then.
If you have 6 or more dishes planned, two per person is adequate unless serving as a bread course. Personally, I'd still prep a reserve - sometimes people surprise you. Or you ruin the turkey...
Kids can go either way - I'd plan as if they were adults since one kid may make up for his friends. We have a little girl in my church who would literally live on dinner rolls if her parents would let her! Last Wednesday she finished off 5 that I know of - she's eight and they are good size rolls!
The little turkey also once filched a bite out of one of mine....
Mike - here's a recipe that I've made many times that always turns out great. The result is soft, moist rolls that are really yummy.
I like big rolls, so I usually make 7-9 with this recipe, but you could make 12 "standard" size rolls if you make them smaller. You can arrange them on a cookie sheet rather than in a cake pan.
I left my notes about timing in case they're helpful for you.
This is the first year I've had a WFO, and I'm going to break from tradition and make crusty rolls rather than these. I did a test run with Hammelman's poolish baguette recipe the other day and they came out great.
Soft, Pillowy Dinner Rolls
1? cup buttermilk (room temperature)
4 T sugar
2 T butter (softened)
1 t salt
3 c (16.5 oz) bread flour
1 T instant yeast
1) Combine all ingredients.
3) After first rising, form rolls (7-12, depending on the size). Place rolls in a greased/floured round cake pan.
4) Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, or until dough has risen to the desired height, approx. 1 inch over side of pan (rolls only rise slightly during baking).
Bake at 400 for ~20 minutes (I test doneness with a thermometer as these can easily be under/over cooked). Remove from oven and invert onto kitchen towel to remove from pan, then place on cooling rack. While still hot, coat rolls with butter to help keep tops moist.
Combining ingredients, kneading, first rising: 90 minutes
Arranging in pan: 5 minutes
Rising: ~50 minutes
Total time to oven: ~2 hrs, 25 minutes