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With What Shall I Baste It, Dear Liza, Dear Liza?

What is the difference between basting a roasting turkey with unsalted or salted butter? Which is better and why?

There you go again, asking the wrong questions.

According to the National Turkey Federation*, "many cooks" prefer to use vegetable oil, as it produces a "more evenly golden-brown turkey." To those many cooks who prefer vegetable oil, we say, "God bless 'em."

We, however, will always cast our vote in favor of flavor, and will stick to using butter.

The federation folks make a good point, however, that the salt in butter is actually a magnet for heat, and you may get tiny brown specks on the skin from basting with salted butter. Obviously the solution, then, is to use unsalted butter.

*These are the same people who continue to insist that you cook your turkey to a temperature of 170F (77C) in the breast and 180F (82C) in the thigh, even though our bureaucrats in Washington now allow a safe internal temperature of 165F (74C). "We believe," the turkey people say, "many consumers may wish to continue cooking many products to the higher internal temperatures to achieve the desirable firmer texture and to ensure that all juices run clear, without traces of any pink color."

We at Ochef, however, believe that people are tired of dried-out, overdone turkey, and have eagerly embraced the 165F standard. (Actually we embraced it long before the government approved....)

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