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My wife makes a very delicious chicken curry. Part of the "recipe" is let it rest for 2 hours or so until it reaches room temperature. She claims the meat relaxes and reabsorbs gravy from the curry, making the chicken more tender and succulent. She claims if it is served immediately or chilled in the fridge, it never gets this opportunity.

I've heard of resting steaks or roasts. The idea is getting the moisture that's already inside the meat to stay there. But will resting a stew in fact help make the meat pieces more tender?

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It has nothing to do with meat absorbing liquids, that doesn't happen just as you explained it. Once meat has become dry, it doesn't get succulent again by somehow spongeing up liquid. The recipe is right to have you wait before serving though, because the flavors keep improving at least for the first day after cooking a stew. It is about aroma, not about texture.

For more detail, see What causes flavors to "marry"? and What happens chemically when flavours 'mingle'?, probably also other questions.

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    Hm, let me clarify. It is not about the "flavor" but rather the texture: the apparent softness and juiciness of the meat. I know that stewing meats require longer cook times to render connective tissue. But if that explained it, resting would just be adding to the cook time with carryover heat. If that's all it does, then that helps me understand. – AdamO Jul 31 '18 at 20:07
  • That's what I was trying to say: the texture doesn't need rest. Stew is frequently rested for flavor, and somebody came up with a wrong explanation relating to texture. People are very good at making up plausible sounding explanations and believing in them. – rumtscho Aug 1 '18 at 7:03
  • You can slop together Chile Verde in under an hour. It doesn't get really good until you've barely simmered it for three or four hours. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 1 '18 at 23:24
  • @WayfaringStranger I agree with you about the importance of a good simmer, but I think we are talking about different things here. Resting is about the time between taking the stew off the heat and eating it, no matter if it was simmered before or not. – rumtscho Aug 2 '18 at 11:55
  • @rumtscho Yes, I think so. Just wanted to be sure. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 2 '18 at 13:35

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