Basting: It’s All About That Baste

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BASTE! But not how you think! The basting myth has gone on way too long.

MYTH: Basting keeps the bird juicy.

FALSE! When any large piece of meat roasts, the key is high heat about 425–450 degrees in the first 30 minutes. This helps create a ‘seal’ on the outside skin and immediate flesh underneath which helps keep much of the moisture inside the bird or roast. The skin, just as our own is a barrier to keep things out and protect our insides from harm and disease–In fact it is the largest organ of the body. So from that simple scientific fact, basting cannot re-hydrate the bird. The flesh does not magically suck the juices back inside. In fact all those juicy fats roll right off the sides and back down into the roasting pan.

FACT: What basting does is make a nice brown skin on the bird.

Basting is only needed 2-3 times in the roasting process. No extra fat, butter or oil is needed–the turkey has enough on it’s own so refrain from lubing up your bird. After the first 30 minutes, pull out Mr Tom and using a pastry brush–not one of those squeeze bulb things, dip into the juices at the bottom of your roasting pan and brush all over the skin of the bird and place back in the oven. At this time turn down to 375 degrees. In another hour, you can brush again as there will be more drippings as the fat releases from the bird. At this time turn the heat down to 350. If it is a large bird, you may need to baste 3 times but no more than that. Every time you open that oven you lose heat and the oven has to crawl back up to temperature–adding more cooking time. Once done you now have very little grease in the bottom of your pan and can harvest those drippings for gravy without having to skim away so much fat.

REMEMBER: a bone-in bird needs to rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

It allows time for the juices to coagulate and stay within the meat. It’s not that it re-absorbs, as it cools, it holds the juices in place. A bone-in turkey will stay very warm for an hour if not carved. Great timing for gravy, and heating anything else in he oven.


All of us here at South Bay School of Cooking wish you a delicious Thanksgiving!

We invite you to check out our holiday cooking classes to add spice and elegance to your feasts!



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