Tent with foil or not while resting meat?

The recent question posted about roasting chicken got me to thinking...I have read/heard divergent opinions about whether or not to tent meat with foil while resting. I've found that resting chicken, for example, under foil ruins crispy skin so I let birds rest uncovered. This has worked well for me, but I do tend to let chickens get a few degrees higher before I'll pull them out of the oven b/c I worry that the temp won't continue rising as much uncovered as it would tented. Don't know if this idea is unfounded, which is one reason for my question.

Skin texture obviously isn't an issue for other types of meat, but again, I've heard different opinions about whether, steak, for example, is tastiest when eaten at or close to room temperature. I remember a radio interview with Thomas Keller in which he said he usually lets meat rest for the same amount of time it took to cook (obviously not applicable to whole roasted chicken), so I keep that in mind, but this question of whether or not to tent with various types/cuts of meat and how internal temp is affected by doing one or the other always bugs me. Any thoughts?

Kristen W.


Bevi April 25, 2012
I tent!
Kristen W. April 25, 2012
Appreciate the feedback and the information. I do use a meat thermometer, by the way, but for some reason never thought to leave it in while meat is resting (hitting palm of hand on forehead right now)! Live and learn...

Voted the Best Reply!

ChefOno April 24, 2012

Keller's guideline works better as an illustration than a hard rule -- smaller, thinner cuts require a shorter rest than thicker cuts, with similar logic applied for levels of cooking (except a well-done steak can be served to the customer without any rest whatsoever).

There are other factors at play during resting especially the cooking temperature and thus the exterior of the meat, but also the surrounding temperature. Heat moves toward cold, either toward the center where you want it to go, or away into the environment (and thus the reason for the tent). So, yes, the lack of a tent will affect carryover cooking.

The way to assure yourself you're achieving the desired final temperature is to simply leave your roasting thermometer in the bird while it rests. Thermometers are the best learning tool in a cook's batterie de cuisine.

Some minimum resting times:

Chicken, whole, roast: 20 min., no tent
Chicken, breast, roast: 10 min., no tent
Chicken, braised: 20 min., cover or tent
Roasts, small: 20 min., tented or in a warm spot
Roasts, large: 30 min., tented or in a warm spot
Steaks, thick: 15-20 min., tented or in a warm spot
Steaks, thin: 10 min., tented or in a warm spot
Fish Fillets: Zero (they'll dry out)

Meat is dense and retains heat well. Don't worry about it cooling down too much during resting.
ChefJune April 24, 2012
I usually tent roasted meat. It doesn't make the meat overcooked, but it does keep it warm, especially if it's going to sit for a while.
Kim 2. April 24, 2012
I usually tent steak, while its resting, to keep it warm. It doesn't seem to raise the temperature and end up with overlooked meat.
pierino April 24, 2012
I remain a "tent it" guy. What's happening with roasted meats, including chicken is that those delicious juices are boiling deep inside and when you remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest they gradually spread back out into the flesh. I love roast chicken with a crispy skin and have found no problem with the foil tent impairing that. A far more difficult problem is when people don't know understand how to properly carve poultry. As in only two or three of the diners get any skin at all.
Shalini April 24, 2012
I don't generally tent the meat unless it's one with a low fat content to begin with, or if I'm worried about it being a bit dry. I never put a cover on a roasted chicken. A boned pork loin, however, I would put a tent on, whether it's foil or the lid of my Le Creuset braiser. If you've made a roast, I wouldn't cover it. If you've made a braise and want to keep it warm, by all means cover it up.
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