New Barbecue Wisdom: Rest Is Best
Shh … don’t wake the barbecue. It’s resting.
While the conventional wisdom used to be that the ideal time to enjoy the smoky goodness of barbecued meat was right when it came off the pit — avoiding the mushiness or drying that could result from various methods of “holding” it — there’s a new theory gaining traction among pitmasters. NPR reports that allowing barbecued meat to “rest,” if done correctly, actually improves its flavor.
"My observation is that this rested barbecue, which could be two to four hours or more held this way, is the best ever produced," barbecue expert and Texas A&M University professor of meat science Jeff Savell told NPR’s The Salt.
While restaurants are investing in pricey warmers to rest up their meat and achieve this optimal flavor and texture, home cooks and backyard barbecuers can fashion their own DIY version — using a cooler, aluminum foil or unwaxed butcher paper, and old towels — to achieve similar results.
NPR advises that once you take your fully cooked hunk of meat, such as brisket, ribs or pork shoulder, off the grill, you wrap it in the foil or unwaxed butcher paper, swaddle the wrapped meat in the old towels, put it all in the cooler, close the lid and wait patiently — about two hours for a big beef brisket or pork shoulder, but only a half-hour to an hour for a rack of pork ribs. (That’s just enough time for you to take a nice nap in your backyard hammock or run around preparing for your dinner guests.)
Then, once your meat is well-rested, open and enjoy.