By Karli Vezina
Nothing beats a summertime steak on the patio. Whether you like yours rare or crispy, there is always that painful wait time while your delicious dinner rests after cooking. Many of us have been doing this for decades - it’s just what you do, but why? Whether you’re cooking Grandma’s homemade hamburgers or a decadent filet mignon, there is a science to letting meat sit and the results are juicy.
America’s Test Kitchen, a company dedicated to cooking, culinary education and helpful recipes since 1993, decided to take on this beefy tradition and see what the science behind the resting period says. Turns out, letting your meat rest does make our meat taste more delicious.
According to Paul Adams, science editor for America’s Test Kitchen, the resting period is all about saving the meat’s juices. The juice from meat is protein dissolved in water, and Adams says, “At higher temperatures, they flow more freely than they would at lower temperatures.” The meat cools after leaving the heat, allowing the juice’s proteins and melted fat to thicken up just enough to stay with the meat and not run off on your plate. As a result, each mouthful is filled with an abundance of flavourful proteins and fat.
If you’re new to resting meat, one notable tip is to rest the meat in a warm area of the kitchen, like near the stove or grill, so that it doesn’t cool down prematurely.
So it’s settled - resting your meat is a great way to naturally enhance your meat but, for how long? The general consensus is 2-5 minutes, but ATK says there are no numbers set in stone. ATK did some experimenting with temperatures and discovered that a pork loin roast, even after 40 minutes of resting, was still internally warm enough to serve.
Different types and different cuts of meat will have more or less fat and collagen. For cuts of meat that have more fat, they’ll be juicier no matter what and won’t need to rest as long as a leaner cut would. Same goes for pork. What about seafood? Adams says you don’t need to rest fish or any seafood because they cool off faster and have more collagen. Seafood gets cooked to a lower temperature too, reducing the need for resting.