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Why You Should Let Steak Rest After Cooking

posted on

January 11, 2021

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Think back to the best steak you’ve ever had. Aside from the way it was cooked, how it was seasoned, or the piece of meat you chose, there’s one thing that all great steaks have in common: resting time after the meat is cooked.

It’s critical to let your meat rest for a few minutes after cooking and before diving in with a fork and knife to keep the moisture and heat inside.
But why does this trick always result in a perfectly juicy cut when you slice it? There’s science behind the tactic, but not everyone understands how it works.

Below, we’re diving into the benefits of letting your steak rest after cooking and how long your steak needs to rest to create the perfect bite every time.

Why Let Steak Rest?

When you’re cooking steak at a high temperature, you’re heating the muscle fibers and proteins in the meat. Heat moves from the outside of the meat into the center, which is why internal temperature is so important. You want to make sure the inside of your steak reaches a safe temperature to kill off any natural bacteria or microbes that might be in the meat. Cooking also transforms the texture of the meat. The longer the meat is cooked, the more set the proteins become. 

This is why we usually poke a piece of meat with our tongs or fingers to gauge how cooked it is. As the fibers set, they will push the meat’s juices toward the center of the cut. 

If you were to slice the piece of meat immediately after cooking it, all of the moisture in the center would pour out, and you’d lose a lot of flavor. This is one way to create tough meat, and it also looks pretty unappetizing.

However, when you let it rest after cooking, the temperature will slowly come down, and the juices will have time to redistribute into the meat and become reabsorbed by the fibers.

Here’s how it happens:

  • The constricted muscle proteins begin to relax as the temperature cools.
  • There is less pressure in the center of the steak, allowing the moisture to redistribute through the piece and become re-absorbed by everything, from the center to the outer edges.
  • When it’s time to slice into the meat, you’ll reveal a flavorful and moist steak that will melt in your mouth.
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Does Steak Cook While Resting?

You might have heard that a steak continues to cook even after you take it off of the heat. It’s true, thanks to the laws of thermodynamics. It gets a little complicated, and the amount of carryover cooking that happens depends on the size and shape of your steak, as well as how long you cook it. The temperature can rise as much as 13 degrees after you take it off the grill.

That’s why you don’t have to worry about your steak reaching an unsafe food temperature while it rests. As long as you stick to the USDA guidelines for safe cooking temperature, carryover cooking means that the internal temperature won’t go into the danger zone before you can start eating.

How to Rest Steak

To give your steak the proper rest it needs, you’ll need a little bit of equipment and a little bit of patience. For equipment, you just need a clean surface for the steak to sit on. 

A lot of cooks prefer to use a warm plate or serving platter. You can also use a cutting board, which is convenient if you plan on slicing the steak before serving. An oven rack also makes a handy resting spot for your meat, since it helps you keep the crusty, seasoned exterior intact.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Take the meat off of the heat burner, out of the oven, or off the grill once done cooking.
  2. Transfer your meat to a warm plate or cutting board.
  3. Create a tent with aluminum foil to retain a bit of the heat.
  4. Let it sit for the appropriate amount of time (see below).
  5. Remove the foil and slice.
  6. Promptly serve and enjoy!

How Long Should Steak Rest?

Resting your steak aims to reduce the amount of juices that you lose when cutting into the meat. If you can rest it long enough, your meat will retain these juices, and you'll bite into the tender, tasty, and incredibly juicy steak.

How long you let the meat sit will depend on the size and thickness of your cut of meat. As a general guide, the bigger the steak is, the longer you should wait for it to rest and come to the appropriate internal temperature.

If you're not sure how big your meat is compared to others, a rule of thumb is to let your steak rest for at least five minutes (and absolutely no less than three). However, if you've just cooked a whole steak roast, you should let it sit for at least 10 minutes - 20 minutes, maybe longer.

These guidelines may help:

  • Five to seven minutes should be the minimum if you’re in a rush.
  • If you know your cut is thick, give it at least 10 minutes.
  • You could rest it for 5 minutes for every inch of thickness.
  • You could rest it for 10 minutes for every pound.
  • You could rest the meat for half as long as it took to cook. If the meat is thicker, you may rest it for the whole time it took to cook.

Try this method with a premium cut like a 100% grass-fed New York Strip or Delmonico (Boneless Ribeye), and you’ll taste the difference.

Do You Cover Steak While Resting?

In general, there’s no need to cover your steak while it’s resting. It’s best to rest your meat in a warm area, but the short time that your meat spends off the heat before you cut into it isn’t long enough to make your steak cold.

In fact, covering steaks right after you take them from the grill or broiler can trap heat a little too well, resulting in overcooked meat. A tent of aluminum foil will retain warmth for a longer resting period, but it’s best to keep it loose. 

How Long Can Cooked Meat Sit Out?

Cooking kills the bacteria that occur naturally in food, but bacteria are everywhere, all around us. To keep your food safe, the FDA recommends that all cooked meat be either eaten or refrigerated within 2 hours after coming off the heat. 

If your steak is rested, but you’re not ready to eat it yet, you can keep it warm in a low oven for about 15 to 20 minutes without overcooking it. Any longer than that, and you should consider putting it away in the fridge.

Resting Other Meats

Steak isn’t the only meat that benefits from a rest before you cut into it. All meat, from poultry to fish, pork to veal, can benefit from a rest after you cook it. As with steak, the length of time you should rest other meats depends on the size and shape of the cut. The type of meat doesn’t have any impact on how long it should rest.

Taste the difference that a rest after cooking can make with our heritage pasture-raised pork and 100% grass-fed lamb, especially a grilled chop or juicy roast.

Chicken also benefits from resting after you take it off the heat, no matter the cooking method. Waiting a few extra minutes is worth it to lock in the moisture and flavor – give it a try with any cut of our ethical pastured chicken.

Final Thoughts

Cooking the perfect steak is an art that requires a little bit of know-how and technique. If you want to impress your friends, your partner, or even yourself with a great steak sometime soon, be sure to allow for the proper time for the meat to rest before serving.

All of our animals are raised outdoors on regenerative pastures, free of hormones and antibiotics. If you’re looking for ethically raised meat of the highest quality, we’ve got you covered.

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Pork is a versatile meat rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a great addition to a healthy diet, and you can cook it in various ways. Which cut of pork you choose and how to cook it, depends on a few things.  Before deciding which cut is right for you, consider the source. Pasture-raised, heritage breeds produce more flavorful pork with better nutritional content[1] than standard grocery store products.  But can you tell the difference between pasture-raised pork and industrially produced pork? Yes! Our pork is firm and darker pink in color (indicating the animal was pasture-raised). Pork meat that is pale in color, soft, or damp was most likely factory-farmed. As a bonus, all our pork is sugar-free and free from GMOs, nitrates, and antibiotics. Now that we’ve sorted that out, let’s talk about the different pork cuts!  1. Bacon  Bacon is a breakfast staple for a reason, and it’s our #1 selling product of all! These thin slices of pork are quick to cook–making them a great, tasty breakfast, lunch, or dinner option! We recommend frying, baking, or grilling your pork bacon until it turns dark pink and the fat is crispy around the edges. Bonus: You don’t need to stop at breakfast with your bacon. Wrap a tasty filet mignon, top your favorite hamburger, or make bite-sized pieces to mix in with oven-roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or Cobb salad. 2. Pork Sausage Another breakfast staple – pork sausage – is made of cuts from the shoulder and loin of the pig. We season our sausage with black pepper, red pepper, rosemary, and sage to give it a rich, hearty taste.  For the healthiest option, grill or oven-bake your sausages until browned and cooked through–or fry them in a skillet for 10-12 minutes. Then, serve with eggs, in a breakfast sandwich, or with a side of sweet potato hash. 3. Ham Ham comes from the hind leg of the hog. 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Here are some of our favorite ways to serve them for a mouth-wateringly tasty breakfast, lunch, or dinner:  Breakfast Gooey egg, sausage, and cheese breakfast sandwich Colorful fried sausage, veggie, and potato hash  Old-fashioned sausages, biscuits and gravy  Lunch Sauteed peppers, sausage, and onions laced with red pesto  Grilled sausages with creamy coleslaw and a dressed summer salad  Spiced, baked eggplant stuffed with herbs and sauteed sausage  Dinner  Sweet, zingy tomato and sausage penne pasta  Grilled sausages served with baked sweet potato wedges and roasted vegetables  Crumbled spicy sausage and caramelized onion pizza  Expert Tips & Tricks Before we dive into the cooking instructions, here are some helpful tips and tricks to keep in mind to get the perfect sausages every time:  Before cooking your breakfast sausage patties, gently press your thumb down into the center of each one. This will help the sausage to retain its circular shape during cooking.  When it comes to sausages, slow and steady wins the race. That means cooking them on low to medium heat. Otherwise, you risk a burned outside and undercooked inside.  While cooking as many patties or links as you can in a skillet might be tempting, it’s better to cook them in manageable batches. If you don’t, you may accidentally steam the sausages instead of browning them, and lose out on the crispy exterior. Once your sausages are cooked, allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving. This will make every bite more juicy and tender.  For the perfect pork sausage, a meat thermometer is your best friend! You’ll want to ensure the sausage's innermost part reaches 160°F–that’s how you’ll know it’s ready.  Recipe FAQs Is it better to cook sausages in the oven or pan? How you cook your pork sausages depends on your preferences. The oven, skillet, and grill are all great options. The oven is the best option if you prefer a more hands-off approach to cooking, but we'd recommend the pan if you enjoy sizzling your sausages to perfection.  What’s the difference between Italian sausage and breakfast sausage?  Seven Sons’ Italian and breakfast sausages are both beautifully seasoned and sugar-free. The major difference between the two is our selection of herbs and spices in each. While the breakfast sausage is milder and lighter in flavor, with hints of sage and rosemary, the Italian sausage has a lightly spiced flavor thanks to the addition of paprika.  How should sausages be cooked? Pork sausages are versatile and delicious. For best results, you can cook them in several ways, including in the oven, on a skillet, or on a grill.  Can you pan-fry pork sausages? Absolutely! Heat a drizzle of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat to pan-fry pork sausages. Next, cook your sausage patties for five minutes on each side or until the middle of the patties has reached 160°F. Don’t forget to let them rest for a few minutes after cooking, so they’re extra juicy and tender.  Should I add any seasonings to the sausage patties? Seven Son’s breakfast and Italian pork sausages are already perfectly seasoned with a delicate blend of herbs and spices, meaning all you need to do is cook them!  Can I store leftover cooked pork sausage? Yes, it’s easy to store leftover pork sausage. First, let the meat cool completely. Then, transfer it to an airtight container. You can refrigerate it for up to 4 days.  Ready to Cook?  Try Seven Sons’ delicious, sugar-free pork sausage range today. As always, we’d love to know what you think! So, let us know if you tried our recipes and how it turned out!