The secret to achieving that mouth-watering, tender piece of meat isn’t just about the cooking technique. Surprisingly, the process starts well before the steak hits the pan or grill. One crucial aspect often overlooked is the time it takes for the steak to reach room temperature before cooking. And it doesn’t take long, often 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the steak.
In this blog post, I’ll explain the science behind this pre-cooking ritual, explore the optimal time for leaving steak out before cooking, and discuss the potential risks and benefits of this practice. As a chef, I was taught the importance of tempering meat, so keep reading to learn more.
Why resting steak before cooking is important?
Resting steak before cooking is essential because it triggers Maillard’s reaction more efficiently and cooks steak more evenly. To start the Maillard reaction, you must cook meat at high temperatures.
Another reason for leaving a steak at room temperature before cooking is that it does not cool the pan down. If you put one or more steaks straight from the fridge into the scorching pan – the pan drops in temperature. Searing occurs when the pan is 400 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. Putting a cold steak into the pan will significantly reduce the pan’s interior surface, meaning the steak can start to boil instead of sear.
It’s also important to season the steak twenty minutes to an hour before cooking with a generous amount of kosher salt. Usually, it’s done while the steak is resting before cooking. However, to lift your steak game to another level, you can season it a night before cooking and leave it in a fridge uncovered. Seasoning steak with salt will draw moisture out of the steak. When cooking a steak, it goes through the evaporation stage. Seasoning and resting the steak before cooking helps to reduce evaporation time when cooking.
After seasoning meat or using dry brine, there’s a lot of moisture on the exterior of the steak. Using paper towels, remove the excess moisture buildup from the steak’s surface. It will help the browning stage.
How long does it take to rest the steak before cooking?
Depending on the steak size and thickness, leave the steak to rest at room temperature for about 30 mins to an hour before cooking. A one-inch rib-eye, NY strip, or sirloin steak takes a much shorter amount of time to reach room temperature than a big chateaubriand, t-bone, or tomahawk steak.
Here’s an approximate amount of time each size of steak should rest before cooking;
- 6oz steak: 15-20 mins before cooking;
- 8oz steak: 20-25 mins before cooking;
- 10oz steak: 25-30 mins before cooking;
- 12oz steak: 30-35 mins before cooking;
- 24oz steak: 40-45 mins before cooking;
- 30oz steak: 45-50 mins before cooking;
- 45oz steak: about an hour before cooking.
Should you let the steak rest after cooking?
Leave the steak to rest after cooking for five to ten minutes, depending on the steak size. 30oz and 45oz steaks may need even more time to rest – ten to fifteen minutes.
When cooking steak, its protein fibers harden and constrict, squeezing steak juices toward the center of the steak. When the steak is resting, the steak fibers relax, resulting in steak juices redistributing throughout the meat.
If you slice into the cooked steak immediately after removing it from the heat source, the juices end up on your plate, leaving the steak dry and less flavorful.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of resting the steak, read this article. It’s packed with useful information.
Note: The steak continues to cook for another few minutes when taken out from the heat source. So if you want a medium-rare steak (135° F), you’ll need to take the steak out and leave it to rest when the internal temperature reaches 130° F.