To Rest? or not to Rest?

There is debate amongst food scientists as to the value of resting. If the criteria is moisture retention then there is little difference between a rested steak and a non-rested steak. But steak is not the only thing we cook, and moisture retention is not the only objective here.

I will sometimes rest and other times I wont. There are a few things I consider:

If I have someone who doesn’t like the look of the juices on the plate (it is not Blood) then I will rest, the juices thicken during resting and less leaks out onto the plate. Also, the cooking will even out while resting, you will get more even colour and less red in the middle, so it looks more well done, again, this makes it more attractive to some people.

But, there is no helping people who do not like the meat juices.

If there is tension in the meat fibres straight from a hot cooking environment (Like a Roast) I like it to relax a little before carving to stop the tension in the meat fibres squeezing juices out.

More often than not the meat is resting because I have other elements of the meal to deal with, finish off or serve up.

Do not be afraid your meat will get cold while it rests, it won’t! In fact, for a short while the internal temperature will increase as latent heat from the exterior works it’s way to the interior.

Take this into account and stop the cooking a few degrees before it is at its perfect doneness.

Typically, the internal temperature of a piece of chicken or steak will increase in temperature up to 3°C (5°F) in the first 5 minutes of resting, for a larger roast this can be up to 9°C (15°F) in 10 minutes.

Resting relaxes the muscle fibres, this reduces the tension on the meat and prevents the juices from being squeezed out when carving.

For Low N Slow consider the resting as part of the cooking process, collagen breaks down with the application of temperature over time. You’ve cooked your Low N Slow to the point it is soft to your liking, allow it to rest on the bench for a little, so it begins to cool on the outside by only a few degrees, wrap it and keep it in a low oven, bain marie or cooler.

The longer you can keep it at or above 65°C (149°F) the more of the connective tissue will break down and the softer and more luscious it will become.

Remember that as soon as you carve, you are increasing the surface area so Heat and Moisture loss will increase dramatically.

Carve as you are serving, not before.

When resting, cover the food loosely with foil.

Ensure there is an air gap between the food and the foil, this provides an insulating layer, in the places where the foil touches the food, heat from the food will be transmitted through the foil and lost.

The Resting Experiment

I would encourage you to do an experiment with your food probe.

I was sceptical about the value of resting until I did this!

My fear was that the meat would cool before I got it to the table!

Cook a Chook.

Take it out of the cooker and note the internal temperature.

Make a note of  the internal temperature every minute.

You’ll see, like me that the temperature increases initially and it is 20 minutes or so before it comes back down to the temperature it was when you removed it from the cooker.  It will then take another 20 minutes or so before the temperature drops to a Holding or Service temperature of 65°C (150°F)

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