Let it Rest!
This could be the D’Artagnan motto. Whether it’s a ribeye, skirt steak, duck breast or pork chop, all meat needs to rest after it is cooked.
Cook the meat on a grill or cast iron skillet until it has reached your preferred level of doneness.
Then be patient and let the meat rest. Ten minutes on a plate, tented with foil in a warm spot does the job. But why is that rest period so darn important?
When you put a raw steak on a hot pan the fibers of the steak tighten; the moisture in the meat is forced away from those tightened fibers, and into the center of the cut. When you flip it, the same thing happens to the fibers and the moisture on the other side.
When the steak is done, all the juices have been crammed into a space that is far too small to hold them. When you cut that piece of meat straight off the heat source, those juices are going to seek relief from their tight quarters and escape any which way they can.
For the hungry diner who cuts into their steak too soon, this usually means a messy plate and a dry piece of beef. That’s just no fun for anyone.
However, if you let that steak rest, the fibers inside the meat have a chance to relax and reabsorb those internal juices. Once that happens, your meal will be a much more joyful thing to eat.
Is it Done Yet?
But how do you know if your meat has rested enough? It’s a good question, and one that is mostly easily answered by temperature. When you let your meat cool, you’re looking for it to return to a temperature of around 125° F, at least around the edges. That’s the point as which those fibers have relaxed enough to reabsorb the moisture and won’t release it all over your plate. You can easily test the temperature of your meat with an instant read thermometer. Once it’s back to 125° F, dinner is served.
TIP: No meat thermometer? Our rule of thumb is to let meat rest for half of the time it took to cook. Great news for a quickly-grilled steak. But try it when that Thanksgiving turkey is tented on the counter.