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A few tasty bites of science

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By Kirsten Peters

My 84-year old mother bent over the cookbook one day recently and read aloud to me as I wolfed down a chicken sandwich I’d made at lunchtime. The reading was a lesson in how to make a traditional – and very fine as it turned out – pork roast.

Personally, I suspect it would be morally responsible to live as a vegetarian, and certainly good for my family’s health and for the nation’s medical-care bills. But I’m a sinner, and my kitchen produces meat and poultry meals on a daily basis.

My mother read aloud the part of the recipe we both knew well concerning what happens when you take a beef or pork roast out of the oven. For a good bit of time, the meat will continue to cook as it rests on your countertop. And, indeed, the temperature inside a roast actually rises for about 5 -10 minutes after you take it out of the oven.  

What’s up with that?

While it’s cooking in the oven, the roast experiences a moving “wave” of intense heat that’s coming from the oven into the roast from all its surfaces. At first, only the outermost smidgen of the roast is warmed. Then it becomes hot and a smidgen more inside the roast becomes warmed ­— and so on.  


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