11/12/08

To baste or not to baste? Basting that Thanksgiving Turkey.

Let's talk turkey!

First... let me tell you that I grew up watching my Grandmother, Aunt and Mother all baste turkeys. I assumed it was to keep the turkey moist. But my other Grandmother baked hers in a large roaster in the basement and never once basted it, yet hers was always especially moist - albeit pale in color so she always stuck it in the oven for a few minutes just before presenting to give it a beautiful golden color.

I can't say I've always been a regular baster... remembering some years, not others. Sometimes only once, sometimes 5 or 6 times. See? Never regular, yet my turkeys have always been pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

Well, this week I decided to look into the whole basting issue

Here is what I found out; Basting is purely for the skin, not the inside meat. Its only purpose is to help in the browning process. When you baste, the skin will get golden brown and rather crisp from the fats in the juices. When you don't baste but you have patted the bird dry and then used butter or oil all over it you'll get the same effect (which I always do, so that explains it!)

Here is another reason not to baste; do you remember what your Grandmother or Mother taught you about not opening the oven while your food is cooking? You lose heat every time it's opened, which means your meal takes longer to cook. Every time you open that oven door you let heat escape. Instead, use butter or oil and skip the basting. And if it's getting too dark for your tastes? Cover it in foil. I like to cover in foil at the beginning, bake it that way and then remove the foil the last hour or so.

So... happy basting... or not.
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