Should You Let Meat Rest? | Serving Up Science

– Have you ever
wondered why just as you finally finished cooking
a delicious steak and are ready to
serve your guests, someone inevitably reminds
yo to let the meat rest. Does meat need to rest? Is it actually tired
in the first place? It turns out that letting
meat rest can make eating it more enjoyable and that’s
according to science. So let’s explore why. I’m Sheril Kirshenbaum
and on this episode of Serving Up Science,
we’re cooking up some steak and exploring the science behind
why most so-called experts want you to let your meat rest. Think about the
last time you didn’t like eating a steak or a burger. Was it too tough, overly
dry, dare I say leathery? Yeah that doesn’t
sound good at all. What it probably
lacked was moisture. When it comes to
cooking, roasting, broiling or grilling meats,
for the best flavor letting it rest helps keep what we
often call the juices inside. Now notice I didn’t say
blood, it’s not blood. The red colored liquid
you see when cooking or cutting meat is actually
water and myoglobin which is another protein
that stores oxygen and gives beef its
pinkish red color. What we call white meats
like chicken and turkey don’t have as much
myoglobin which is why they appear lighter in color
and can taste particularly dry. Now back to why
we let meat rest. Joining me in the
kitchen today is my husband and sous-chef David. Hi honey. – Hi. – He’ll be cooking up some
meat for us, well for science. Let’s get our ingredients for
a medium rare skillet steak. It’s not all that complicated,
we just need olive oil, salt, and a good skillet
on a medium heat. Looking at our steak, all
of that meat was once muscle on an animal and when we
add heat, a lot happens. It shrinks and gets
firmer, the color changes as fat breaks down and
the water and myoglobin that we love, seeps
out of the steak. There are fibers in the
muscle that contract and relax which has once allowed
the animal to move. These are what give meat what
we tend to call its grain. Within muscle fibers
are two protein threads or filaments called
myosin and actin. During muscle contraction,
the myosin threads grab on to actin threads,
pulling them closer together. For our steak in a pan,
turning up the temperature actually changes those fibers. First, the heat breaks
down myosin threads altering their shape in a
process called coagulation and making the meat shrink. Water gets squeezed
out of the muscle which begins to
happen at around 100 to 120 degrees
Fahrenheit, notably
before the meat is cooked to a safe temperature
to eat which is at 145 degrees
according to the USDA. The actin breaks down
at higher temperatures, from 150 to 163
degrees Fahrenheit. When that happens, your
meat is going to get very firm as the process
pushes even more water out. If we remove all of that
moisture, we wind up with a dry, overcooked steak that’s not
going to impress anyone. And this is the reason
professional chefs
aren’t so pleased when a customer requests
their dish well done. It won’t be juicy and might even get sent back to the kitchen. – It’s well done. – We’re cooking our
steak medium rare, so we’ll remove it once it hits the critical 145
degrees Fahrenheit. At that point, you can
safely remove your steak without worrying
about getting sick. And now, it’s all about how pink around the center
you’re aiming for. Once I take the steak
off of the heat, it gives those coagulated
myosin proteins a chance to relax a little bit. As the meat rests, the
moisture that had been squeezed out of the
muscle fibers have the opportunity to seep back in. – Sorry about that. – There’s a lot of smoke. Just about done. – 145, all right. – 145. Now the kitchen smells
great, I’m ready to eat but we need to
let the meat rest. So we’re gonna cover
it with some foil but how long do we wait before
preparing and eating it? Let’s start the clock. Recommended resting
times may vary and will depend on
the thickness of the cut and cooking
methods used. Thin steaks or chops should
rest five to 10 minutes while thicker cuts could
sit 20 to 30 minutes. Whole turkeys or large
roast are best left resting for 40 minutes before carving. So how do you spend
that time is up to you. I did it when I was
a kid, you can do it. – Well what am I supposed to do? – Over. – Look at this. – Grab that. – Okay. – Down. Perfect, that looks great. – Is that your card? – No. – This one? – Still no. Hold, okay. There, look, look at you. Oh wait that’s
not really a move. Time to wake you up. – You wanna try? – No, that’s pretty grisly. – This looks like
more your size. – It is moist, you’ve done well. It’s got its juices and I
wouldn’t call it leathery. Well done, but not well
done, but well done. How long do you let
your steak rest? Share your experiences
and tips in the comments and if you liked this
video, subscribe below. (upbeat music)


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