The science behind this common technique points to why it creates a more flavorful dish.
In most scenarios, a club chef aims to get a meal on the plate as soon as it leaves the oven. Full cuts of meat, however, are typically left to rest away from the heat between 5 and 20 minutes before they are even carved. This crucial waiting period allows the meat to distribute both its moisture and heat more evenly before heading to the dining room.
The Purpose of Resting Meat
Heating a cut of meal causes its muscle fiber to constrict, which in turn, sends internal moisture rushing to the center. If the chef slices the meat the moment it leaves the heat, all the pooled juices in the center will rush out onto the cutting board, leaving the diner with a dry meal.
Waiting 5-20 minutes—depending on the thickness of the cut—allows the juices to redistribute properly so that the dish evenly retains the flavorful moisture.
Resting also allows the chef to practice “carry-over cooking,” or the continued heating process once the meat comes off the heat. In the oven or on the stove, the meat’s exterior will heat faster than its exterior. If a chef is trying to hit a very precise internal temperature, they may take the meat out early to allow the center of the cut to cook for several more minutes.
How to Rest Meat
When meat is removed from the oven, it should be placed on a warm surface like a platter or a cutting board. Some chefs may choose to loosely tent the meat in aluminum foil to retain temperature while still allowing the steam to escape.
The resting meat time depends on the thickness of the cut. Thinner cuts of chicken, pork, or lamb typically require between three and seven minutes while thick steaks are rested between 10 and 20.
When the process is done correctly, the club chef can send a perfectly sliced cut out to the table with the ideal level of moisture and heat.