Letting Meat Rest: Do I Really Have to Do That?

There are certain labor-intensive recipe phrases that can make the most diligent cook roll her eyes. "Do I really have to do that?" we wonder. Every week, we will track down the answer to that question. Why? Because as much as we love cooking, we're kind of lazy. Leave your Do I Really Have To Do That? questions in the comments and they shall be answered, saving us all a lot of needless trouble.

Imagine this: you've just pulled a crisp, golden-skinned roast chicken from the oven. There's a green salad at the ready and a beautiful bulgur pilaf flecked with herbs. You're ready to eat. Only now you must wait. Never mind that you managed to whip this up after sweating for thirty minutes, saying "om" a few times, and clocking in a full work day. The meat's the one that needs to "rest."

Seriously?

"My wife and I argue about this all the time," said James Briscione, co-author of "Just Married and Cooking" and Director of Culinary Development at the Institute of Culinary Education. "I'm adamant about always letting meat rest properly. But my wife is the first to swoop into the kitchen and pluck a piece of chicken off the roasted bird the moment it comes out of the oven."


In this case, patience truly is a virtue. As cookbook author Kirstine Kidd, whose latest book is called "Weeknight Gluten-Free," explained to us, there are two key reasons to give your roast a breather. First, it allows the juices time to reabsorb. "If you have cut into a roast immediately after removing it from the oven, you might have noticed the juices running out onto the cutting board." You want those in your mouth. "Secondly, the meat continues to cook from retained heat, bringing it up to the perfect internal temperature."

How long will you and this chop be hanging around? "The larger the piece of meat, the longer the resting period," says Kidd. "A steak or chicken thigh needs only about 5 minutes, a large roast or whole turkey should rest for 20 to 30 minutes." Briscione advises this general rule of thumb: let meat rest half as long as you cooked it.

Skip the rest and you suffer two consequences: unevenly cooked meat and a loss in succulence. If you're dying of hunger, these are not dire drawbacks. But couldn't we all get in the habit of slowing down just a teeny bit?

Bottom line
: Just do it. "Think of it as a great time for the cook to wind down," suggests Kidd. Take a deep breath, admire your handiwork, and pour a glass of wine. One more dinner down.


Tweet your lazy cook questions to us @YahooShine #doireallyhavetodothat or leave them in the comments.

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