Thanksgiving is a holiday of sacred traditions. For me, one such tradition has always involved pulling the turkey from the oven every hour, and baste it with sizzling juices and fats until it shines that lustrous sheen.
But like learning Santa was actually my parents bringing out presents from the closet, my illusion was shattered. I’ve come to learn that basting your turkey doesn’t do what you think it does.
My colleagues at Cook’s Illustrated ran an experiment to see if basting a turkey would, in fact, make the bird moist and help brown the skin. The CI team roasted three turkey breasts three different ways—one not basted, the second basted every 20 minutes, the third not basted but the team opened the oven door every 20 minutes to see if that affected cooking.