Basting 101

Give your meat a crackly, browned crust with this easy technique.

basting-illo
Photo by The Ellaphant in the Room

Spooning pan juices over roast turkey, ham, or lamb is the best way to get a crackly, browned crust. (Though contrary to popular belief, basting does not necessarily make the meat more moist.) How does basting work? The hot fat in the pan juices helps to draw moisture from the skin, which crisps as it cooks, just as in frying. Start basting halfway through the cooking time, once the meat has begun to give off some liquid. Use a bulb baster or a large spoon to drizzle the juices from the bottom of the pan over the top of the meat. Baste again when you check the meat’s temperature (about every 20 minutes). Once the meat is out of the oven, stop. In the absence of high heat, adding more liquid will only soften the crisp skin.