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FutureStarrA Basting a Turkey
It’s all downhill after the turkey has been basted. The natural moisture in the juices and a coat of fat prevent the turkey from drying out. Throughout the cooking, the juices flow down to the leg and back (the thigh) of the turkey. The leg provides more room for the turkey juices to flow and baste the bird. When it is basted, it is 95% done, though you will not be able to tell by color. I’ve heard I can’t cook a turkey without anything touching the skin. Is this true?
Basting has a two purposes. First, it ensures the juiciness of your bird’s chicken breasts. How? When you baste the breasts with the liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan, the liquid slows down the rate at which the breasts cook so they’re not done before the thighs. Second, the fat in the cooking liquid caramelizes and turns the skin evenly golden brown and crispy. To be clear, you don’t have to baste your turkey. You can still get juicy meat and crispy skin without basting. Basting just scores you extra quality points. More juiciness + crispy skin = win, win. Now that you’re all intrigued, here’s how to do the deed. Open your oven, carefully remove the roasting pan, and close the oven quickly so too much heat doesn’t escape. Then use a baster (or a spoon, but more on that below) to drench the breast meat in the cooking liquid. Place the roasting pan back into the oven. In the last hour of cooking, you can baste the turkey in additional melted butter or olive oil instead of the pan juices to really make sure that skin turns golden brown.
Basting means spooning, squirting or brushing the juices that are in the roasting tin back over the meat as it cooks, or laying something over it that will release fat as it cooks. A self-basting turkey (that you see in supermarkets) will have been injected with a salt and flavour solution, so the meat will be much wetter as it cooks but it won’t necessarily be more flavoursome. Older recipes often advise basting a turkey regularly to keep the meat moist. Actually, basting so much is not guaranteed to stop your turkey drying out, especially if you leave the meat in the oven too long. (It's important to follow pack instructions and calculate the right cooking time.) Also, any flavour from butter, bacon rashers or herbs will remain on the skin rather than permeate the meat, which is fine if you have a flavourful stuffing, but water content in the bacon or butter means the skin won't crisp up. Turkeys that have been basted too often usually end up with a slightly streaky-looking, soft skin. (Source: www.bbcgoodfood.com)