Let your meats take a nap

In my previous post, I talked about reading this book called the Science of Good Cooking. It’s a cookbook (read: recipes) combined with the science behind how food cooks. Based on the previous miso dish, two things from the recipe caught my attention.

MARINATING and RESTING!

So here are some questions (from me) and answers from the book.

Question: Why do we marinate food?

“A marinade is a seasoned, traditionally acidic liquid in which we soak meat before cooking. On one level, marinating is about getting as much of the soaking liquid flavours as possible into  (and on) a piece of meat. But the effectiveness of a marinade really rests on salt, a key ingredient in brining. After all, soaking meat in a saltwater solution is a way to create more juiciness. ”

6. Transfer the chicken to a chopping board, and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.

Question: Why do we need to let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting it?

“A single muscle fibre can shrink to as little as half of its original volume during the cooking process. The process of muscle contraction explains why experienced chefs can determine the doneness of meat by pushing on it and judging the amount of resistance. The firmer the meat, the more shrinkage has occurred and the more cooked the meat will be. But the contraction process is at least partly reversible. If you allow cooked meat to rest, the proteins will relax, allowing some of the expelled moisture to move back in.

Resting allows the contracted proteins to relax and draw moisture back in where it is held by the dissolved proteins. As a result, rested meat will be able to hold on to more of its natural juices, making meat seem less dry and more tender.”

Question: How long should you let your meat rest?

“In an experiment, tasters described roasts that had rested for at least 10 minutes as juicier and more tender.Tasters could tell very little difference between roasts rested for 30 and 40 minutes.”

A 10 minute nap is usually enough, depending on the meat and cut.

Suggested Resting Times

(Wow, meats need to take naps too!)

Beef

  • Steaks: 5 to 10 min
  • Roasts: 15 to 30 min

Lamb

  • Chops: 5 to 10 min
  • Roasts: 15 to 30 min

Pork

  • Chops: 5 to 10 min
  • Tenderloin: 10 min
  • Roasts: 15 to 30 min

Chicken

  • Parts: 5 to 10 min
  • Whole: 15 to 20 min

Turkey

  • Parts: 20 min
  • Roasts: 30 to 40 min
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