Whether you barbecue, grill, or use one of the other cooking methods, resting meat is an important step before carving. If you carve meat immediately after cooking you will see all of those wonderful juices freely flowing all over the cutting board. While this might make your mouth water you want those savory juices to redistribute back into the meat so that they end up in your mouth! If you carve or cut immediately it will be dry by the time you plate and eat your meal.
When the meat is cooked the heat drives the natural juices towards the center, away from the heat source. By letting the meat rest before carving those juices redistribute evenly throughout the cut, reducing the loss when carving. The amount of time to rest depends on the cut/thickness of meat as shown in the chart below. A steak only takes a few minutes, but a brisket or pork butt can be foiled, wrapped in a towel, and placed in a cooler to rest for well over an hour and remain hot when serving.
A large cut such as a pork butt or roast will continue to cook and the internal temperature can actually rise as much as ten or fifteen degrees during the resting process. This occurs because the exterior of the meat is hotter and that heat is transferred to the cooler center. The rise in internal temperature is also effected by the temperature at which the meat was cooked. If you barbecue low and slow the rise in temperature will be less than if grilled at higher heat.
A thinner cut like steak or pork chops may slightly cool during resting. To avoid this you can simply place a loose foil tent over the meat. Try to avoid having the foil contact the meat as it can soften the crust formed during cooking. Some critics suggest this traps steam and softens the crust anyway. Many steak houses will often let the meat rest in the open for 5 minutes then toss it back on a hot skillet or fire for a few seconds on each side and serve it on a preheated fajita plate to keep warm while serving and eating.
Some cuts of meat such as ribs, chicken pieces, and fish do not need to rest as there is not enough thermal mass to hold a lot of residual heat so there is little carry over cooking. They also tend not to carry as much juice as other cuts.
Check out this article if you really want to delve deeper into resting meat.
|Cut of Meat||Resting Time||Rise in Internal Temperature|
|Chicken, whole||5-10 minutes||5 °F|
|Turkey, whole||20-30 minutes||5-10 °F|
|Brisket *||30-60 minutes||5-10 °F|
|Pork Butt *||30-60 minutes||5-10 °F|
|Beef Roast *||30-60 minutes||10-15 °F|
|Steaks, 1"||5 minutes||5 °F|
|Pork Chops, 1"||5-10 minutes||5-10 °F|
* if foiled and wrapped in a towel then placed in a cooler you can rest
these cuts for well over an hour. This is a great tip for entertaining
larger groups as it provides flexibility in serving time.