So your stuffing is spectacular, and your pumpkin pie is second to none, but let’s talk turkey. When it comes to Thanksgiving dishes, few are less forgiving than the bird itself. Cook it for too long and the meat turns dry. Cook it too quickly and everyone gets food poisoning. It’s a tricky thing to get right. But there’s one mistake most people make when cooking up a Thanksgiving turkey – basting.
Yes, this method that’s supposed to result in crispy skin and a juicy bird is actually drying your turkey to the point that the world’s best gravy can’t save it. But why?
Well, basting has a lot of downsides. In an interview with NPR, culinary superstar Alton Brown pointed out then when basting, you open the oven door a lot. This lets the heat out and forces you to cook the bird for a little longer. And what happens when you cook it for too long? It will dry out — and dry turkey is just not as delicious. So step away from the turkey baster. There’s a better way to cook that bird.
Instead of moistening the bird as you go, give it a good rubdown before popping it in the oven. According to Serious Eats, an oil rub serves the same function as basting, but without having to constantly open the oven door. It also helps your turkey get that perfect golden hue while keeping the skin from getting too tough. Or, if you don’t mind cheating a little bit, follow this advice from Time and cook the turkey in an oven bag. It may not have the same impact as a perfectly roasted bird, but it will almost certainly be a juicy, delicious turkey.
Now go forth and enjoy your best Thanksgiving yet.