What does it mean to baste something? How and when do you do it?-- Nora
Basting is used in roasting meat and poultry. To baste something, you take some of the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan and use them to moisten the top surface. The juices may be spooned over the meat or brushed on. A basting bulb can also be used. It is a hollow tube which narrows to a small opening on one end and has a soft bulb on the other end. To use it, the bulb is squeezed to press out some air, and then the open end is placed into the juices in the pan. When the bulb is released, the vacuum which is created draws the liquid into the tube. The liquid can then be drizzled over the meat by gently squeezing the bulb again.
Basting is done every 20 minutes or so, depending on temperature and the meat being cooked. Always follow the instructions in the recipe.
Basting has two major effects. Because the juice is loaded with protein and natural sugars from the meat, when it reaches the roasting temperature, it undergoes a Maillard reaction (see Browning Meat for Slow Cooker). This adds both flavor and color to the outside of the meat.
Also, as the water in the juices evaporates, it cools the surface of the meat slightly while at the same time moistening it. Both of these effects help to keep the meat from drying out.
Roasts with a layer of fat, cooked fat side up, don't need to be basted.