By Harold McGee
A meat dish can be cooked perfectly and yet disappoint if it’s mishandled on the way to the table. Large oven roasts should be allowed to rest on the countertop for at least a half hour before carving, not only to allow the “afterheat” to finish cooking the center, but also to allow the meat to cool down, ideally to 120°F/50°C or so. (This may take well over an hour; some chefs allow for a rest period equal to the roasting time.) As the temperature drops, the meat structure becomes firmer and more resistant to deformation, and its water-holding capacity increases. Cooling therefore makes the meat easier to carve and reduces the amount of fluid lost during carving.