Why It's A Major Mistake To Cut Into Meat Right Off The Grill

To preserve the integrity of your grilled chicken or steak, there are a few cooking rules you need to keep in mind. One of the first to remember is that cut into meat right off the grill is a major mistake. (In fact, Anthony Bourdain calls it the worst mistake we're making with steak.) While you might be eager to dig into the tender, juicy flesh, patience is a virtue, and that phrase rings especially true in the kitchen. Because yes, you need to let your meat rest before cutting into it to preserve its flavor. 


Cutting into meat without letting it rest first will force all those flavorful interior juices onto your cutting board. This happens because the juice within meat condenses under high heat, flooding away from the flames and into the center of the meat. All that fat and flavor will only evenly redistribute throughout the meat when it's cooled down. 

So, once your meat is perfectly browned and seared, you should take it off heat and transfer to a cutting board to rest. Then, tent the board with tin foil to trap in the heat, and remove, cut, and serve only when the time is right. While it might be a time-consuming step in the grilling process, we'd argue that it's worth it to prevent all those juices from pooling and leaking out of the flesh, leading to a lackluster and dry cut of meat that ruins the whole meal.


How to know when it's really time to slice

Letting meat rest is an essential part of the cooking process for chicken, beef, pork, and fish, to name just a few proteins. However, the rest time for each cut of meat does vary. Generally speaking, thinner cuts of meat can rest for about 10 minutes, while thicker cuts should be left alone for up to 20 minutes. As always, actual times vary depending on the recipe, so use your best judgement. 


Thickness of your protein aside, you can also determine resting times by the internal temperature of the meat. For example, no matter how well-done you like your meat, you'll know a steak is ready to slice when the interior reaches a temperature of 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit after resting.

After this time is complete, the fibers within the meat have time to relax, so the juices will reabsorb and distribute evenly across the flesh. This prevents all the flavorful juices from spilling out all at once, and preserves your meat's tender, moist, and juicy makeup.

Another reason to let your grilled meat rest

While preserving the moist makeup of grilled meat is a good enough reason to let it rest, there is another solid justification too, and that is called carry-over cooking. Meat still cooks when it's been taken away from its heat source, so you need to give the flesh time to complete its cooking process off the grill. While the exterior of the meat cools, the latent heat will rise within. So, you need to give the flesh time for its inner and outer temperatures to match. This is why you should take meat off the grill just before it reaches its optimal temperature, as it will retain that heat and rise by about 10 additional degrees off the grill.


In addition to making sure grilled steaks, and roasts rest before slicing, this applies to your pan-seared steaks too. Don't rush the process. Trust us, you'll be glad you waited.