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Does Meat Need to Rest?

chicken resting

There are some things you do as a cook because … well, because. But it's a good idea to revisit these habits. Habits like letting meat rest after cooking.

We've always done this but never knew the real science behind it. Thanks to some research, we're now happy to present both sides of the story.

Three Reasons Why You Should Let Meat Rest

  1. It isn't done cooking. You know how an electric stove doesn't automatically cool off just because you turn off the heat? Food is like that, too. All the heat you've just put into the meat is still there. Eventually, the meat reaches its peak temperatures and then starts to cool down. You want the meat to rest at least until it reaches that peak temp.
  2. There's science going on in the meat. As you heat meat, the proteins stretch out and can lose structural integrity. And the collagen transforms from a solid to a liquid. As meat starts to cool back down, the collagen firms up and the proteins regain their strength. If you cut meat too soon, you'll lose a lot of liquid. Wait a few minutes and the meat will stay juicy.
  3. That's the way Dad always did it. And who can argue with that?

Three Reasons Why You Shouldn't Let Meat Rest

  1. It will overcook. If you let meat rest, it will continue to cook. So if you pull it off the grill when it's perfect, why would you let it continue to cook? You'll end up with an overcooked piece of meat.
  2. The loss of juices is minimal. The "science" going on in the meat is legit. But that liquid loss that people are so worried about is actually pretty small. The example we found was about one teaspoon lost for a steak.
  3. We are impatient. Let's be honest. When there's something delicious coming off the grill, no one has much willpower to wait.

At Adams Rib Rubb, we're all about cooks finding out what works for them. And that seems to be the right approach with letting meat rest.

For folks who are all about letting meat rest, the exact time it should sit is open for debate. Some grillmasters say bigger cuts of meat should rest for up to 20 minutes. Others claim eight minutes is a good rule of thumb for everything on the grill. But most pro-rest people agree that it isn't just beef that needs to take a moment - pork, chicken and game are included, too.

If you've never let your meat rest, try it and see what happens. And if you're a staunch rester, serve up your next steak immediately and see how it goes. Find out what works for you - and let us know!