I am an impatient cook. If I'm going to make a sauce or gravy out of the liquid I just used for braising, I want to do it right now. I don't want to laboriously skim the fat off with a spoon or wait for anything to cool. Fat separators are all well and good, but what about using a tool I already own? Enter the turkey baster.
Here's what I do: squeeze the turkey baster bulb, insert it into the liquid below the fat line, and let go. The liquid we want is sucked up into the baster while the fat is left behind. Squeeze the liquid directly into the pan and start cooking right away.
Depending on how much liquid you have, you might have to repeat this several times. It can be a bit tricky when you start getting down to the bottom. Tilting the bowl helps suction up the last few teaspoons of liquid with a minimal amount of the fat.
It might seem counterintuitive to suction the liquid and not the fat on top. Truthfully, you probably could do it the other way, but I find that plunging the baster right into the liquid ends up being easier and more direct than trying to delicately suction the fat off the surface.
Try it both ways next time and you'll see what I mean!
(Image: Emma Christensen)