Letting cooked meat rest before you cut into it can be patience-trying for the hungry carnivore. But it’s worth it for a number of reasons.
High heat makes muscle proteins in the meat contract, pushing juices toward the center. If you allow your meat to relax — anywhere from 5 minutes for a steak to around 40 for a turkey — liquid that has been pushed out of tightened meat cells is able to circulate and be reabsorbed, making the meat more tender. This also means the juice will stay in the meat, not run all over your cutting board or plate. It also helps even out the temperature of the meat.
Remove your cooked meat and place it on a wooden cutting board (or, as some chefs insist, on a wire rack above a plate to capture juices, which allows air to circulate on its underside, preventing it from becoming soggy). You can also loosely tent the meat with foil; again, be careful not to wrap it too tightly, lest you lock in the moisture and lose your crisp crust.
Note: The internal temperature of meat rises while it rests, due to the residual heat from the oven. So invest in a digital, instant-read meat thermometer and get in the habit of pulling your meat out before it’s done to your liking.