Ultimate Juicy Meat Test: Did Your Steak Get Enough Rest?
You’ve labored over this luxurious cut of steak for hours. You’ve paid the high price tag, did your recipe research. You’ve seasoned it just right and got the timing to flip the meat down to the very second. At last, you’re ready to enjoy and savor the ultimate steak dinner.
Anticipating juicy tenderness bursting with moisture and flavor, you cut your steak open the minute it got off the grill. Immediately, its juices ooze out and go to waste pooling on your plate while the decadent steak you were salivating for becomes dry and flavorless.
Too sad to be true? Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes made when cooking meat is forgetting to let it rest, and here is why it’s so important to let your meat relax before digging in.
It all comes down to science.
Hot expands, cold contracts. When meat is placed onto a grill or pan, the muscle fibers in contact of the hot surface expands and squeezes together, pushing away moisture in the fibers. Some of the moisture goes out of the meat, which cause the sizzling you hear when cooking. The rest of the juice is squeezed into the center of the meat. That is the state of the meat when you first take it off the heat. Cutting in too soon causes all the juice gathered at the center to burst out instead of staying inside, and the steak lose all its beefy flavor as the juices are left behind on the plate or cutting board.
[What’s that red juice? No, it’s not blood. The red liquid is actually a protein found in muscle tissue called myoglobin. It contains a red pigment, which is why muscle tissues are red when uncooked. As the meat is cooked, myoglobin darkens and the meat turns “well-done” gray.]
To avoid gnawing on a dry piece of steak, let your meat relax a little after taking it off the heat.
How do I Rest Meat?
1. Warm Plate
The simplest way is to let it sit on a warm plate. Stick a heat-proof platter or dinner plate in the microwave to heat it for about 1 minute, or in the oven for about 5 minutes. Then, set your cooked steaks on the plate to rest.
2. Cover with Foil
If you’re outdoors and it’s windy, cover the steak loosely with foil. Don’t wrap the foil too tight around your meat, as it would “sweat” it and dry it out. Keep in mind that covering with foil does soften the steaks, so you lose that crisp exterior.
As the meat rests, the juices gathered at the center will slowly be redistributed back into all the muscle fibers, and when you cut into the steak after resting, all that tasty juice will stay inside the steak.
Dry plate, juicy steak. Simple enough, and the difference is astounding.
There is just one little thing: Even after taking your meat away from the heat, it would still be cooking.
Not only would your meat not cool down, but its internal temperature would still gradually increase for a time. This is because the residual heat will continue to cook your steak even after you've removed it from the grill or the pan. Carry-over cooking can cause even a small steak or hamburger patty to rise 3-4°F after being taken off the heat, and for thick cuts or larger roasts, the internal temperature can rise as much as 10-15°F.
This is important because it means you should take your meat off the heat a couple degrees before it reaches your desired final temperature.
Above is a graph of the perfect temperature that corresponds to the desired doneness of your steak. Our chefs recommend medium-rare for Certified Piedmontese steaks for the best mouthfeel and taste. If you want to reach a final temperature of 125°F after resting, you will have to take the steak from the heat at around 115°F.
To do this, you will need a reliable and accurate meat thermometer.
MEATER is a wireless smart meat thermometer with dual sensor to measure both the internal temperature of all types of meat, and the ambience temperature of your smoker, oven, or pan. Poke it through your meat and you can track accurate temperature changes throughout the cooking process the MEATER app on your phone. It has a range of 33ft to WiFi-range depending on product, so feel free to kick back and relax on your couch. The app even accounts for resting time and will chime an alarm to let you know exactly when the meat need to take it off the heat to rest, and when it has finished resting.
Remember, with just a little patience and a careful eye (or helpful tool) watching the temperature of your meat, delicious things will happen.