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For Juicier Meat, Give it a Rest

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Unrested meat

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By Shelley Wiseman and Julissa Roberts

When meat is cooked with dry heat (roasting, grilling, or searing), the cells in the muscles soften and contract, releasing liquid, most of which is forced by the heat toward the cooler center of the meat. If you were to cut into the meat right after cooking, all the juice would pool onto your cutting board, leaving you with meat that’s dry.

But if the meat rests, it begins to cool slightly and the process is reversed: The juice is able to flow back into the outer muscle fibers, where it stays during carving, making the meat juicy throughout.

How long a piece of meat needs to rest depends on its thickness. A 1-inch-thick steak or chop will need about 5 minutes to rest, whereas a large roast benefits from 30 minutes to an hour.

Unrested
If meat is sliced right after cooking, the juice runs out from the center, leaving the meat dry.
Rested
The juice has had time to be redistributed throughout the meat so it stays inside when the meat is sliced.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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