Home Cooking

What Ever Happened to Basting?


More from Home Cooking

Home Cooking

What Ever Happened to Basting?

cowboyardee | | Sep 5, 2011 12:08 PM

I've read a few hundred recipes for roast chicken and turkey here on CH. While I have nothing against high, hot, quick methods like the zuni chicken, I wonder what happened to older style recipes I grew up on. Specifically, why do I almost never see recommendations to baste a bird?

Is it because:
- methods like the Zuni or Keller chicken recipes are just so darn popular? If so, doesn't anyone roast a larger chicken anymore? I see a lot of 4+ pound birds in the grocery store - someone must be buying and cooking em.

- basting is a little more work and usually used along with a longer cooking time? That's true, but I've seen no shortage of work- or time-intensive recipes on CH.

- because Alton Brown told people not to? It's hard to say exactly how influential AB's advice has been. But early in the run of Good Eats, he told people that basting was bad; at the time, he seemed not to understand what basting was actually supposed to accomplish. He seemed to think it was to flavor the bird whereas it's actually to help crisp the skin of a bird that's not cooked on high heat - actually like frying the bird a little bit at a time. He also blamed a too-dry bird on lower cooking temp and longer cooking time, when really it has a lot more to do with higher final internal temperature (if you want to test this, cook a bird at 200 until the breast registers 150-155 - it will take a long time and wind up veerrrry tender and moist). I like AB, but he was dead wrong on this one.

Think I'm overstating his influence? Here is a link to another website - both the blogger and most of the many comments parrot his advice with no one questioning it, no one pointing out that old style recipes with basting seemed to achieve a crispy skin just fine.

- people confuse and conflate basting with stock and basting with melted fat and meat juices? Sort of a different effect

- some other factor that I don't understand?

That's probably enough to discuss for now. I'm just wondering what ever happened to all the poultry recipes that grandma used to make and why they seem to have fallen out of favor. IMO, the current mainstream advice is off.