One of my favorite family traditions is our Sunday night dinners. Every Sunday, my entire family gathers at my house for dinner. We usually start off with appetizers (ok, its always cheese, crackers and wine) and we enjoy a pot-luck style dinner and dessert together. There is always a lot of laughter, a lot of good food, and a lot of wonderful memories made. We started this tradition a few years ago, when we lived in West Virginia and our "family" was an adopted group of transplants just like ourselves. There really is no better way to become closer to a group of people than through good food and conversation, am I right? Sometimes the meal is as simple as tacos, and other times its a bit more complicated, but whatever we eat we enjoy our time together. This past week we decided to try a totally new technique, and I am so excited to share it with you because its completely awesome.
Lomo al Trapo is a Columbian style grilled Beef Tenderloin. But the kicker is that you create a crust of salt that surrounds the beef, wrap it up in a cloth and grill it. Right on the coals! This method is so easy you won't believe it!
This technique is seriously awesome! Please, do NOT be afraid of this, it could not be easier, and the results are absolutely stellar. Three ingredients, 2 supplies, and fire. That's really all it takes to create this fool-proof meal. Serve this at your next dinner party or holiday gathering and your whole family and friends will be massively impressed with your skills. It can totally be our secret on how easy it actually is, ok?
I really loved how easy and simple it was to prepare this tenderloin. Basically you take a damn kitchen towel, make a thick bed of salt on it, add some herbs and roll it up. Kosher salt is the best to use, the coarser grain is easier to wipe off later. I picked a few herbs from my garden (I choose rosemary, thyme and oregano, but you can use any of them, or all of them, or whatever you want). Make sure you use a damp (but not soaking) towel to help to form a nice crust.
Rolling the beet tenderloin up is kind of a cross between rolling sushi and a burrito, just make sure that the tenderloin is totally encased in salt and tie it up!
You are going to place this little package right on the coals. Its probably going to catch fire, thats ok, just close the lid a bit to limit the oxygen supply so that it doesn't completely burn away the cloth and string. Keep cooking until you reach the desired temperatures (noted in the recipe below). But make sure you don't overcook, as beef tenderloin is the least forgiving of being overcooked. I also recommend against using a leave-in thermometer here - since your meat is so close to the coals, it could damage the leads to a probe thermometer. Use an instant read thermometer instead.
The burnt cloth looks totally cool, but it also gives a slight smoky flavor to the meat. Its almost important to note that you need to take the thick salty crust into account when reading the temperature of the tenderloin. It could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes of resting for it to reach the desired temperature. The cloth is going to be completely blackened and smoldering. This is perfectly fine, and actually totally what you want, so just keep cooking!
The salt ends up forming this awesome crust that you need to break through. Make sure you wipe off as much of the excess salt as you can with the back of a knife or with a pastry brush. A bit is good, but too much ends up being very harsh. Trust me! Wipe it off! You can also take some of this burnt, smoky salt and use it to flavor the other dishes in your meal. The tenderloin ends up being totally juicy, and flavorful!
A Few Super Duper Important Notes:
1. Do Not use your grandmother's hand embroidered tea towel for this recipe. The towel that you use will be placed directly on top of hot coals and will burn up. There will be no saving it, so use something that is totally stained, super cheap, or use 4 layers of cheesecloth.
2. Charcoal is a MUST for this recipe! A gas grill just won't get hot enough. Charcoal briquettes will work just fine, but the embers of a wood fire are the best you can get (can you imagine making this while camping?! You would totally win.)
3. Do not try to "save time" by wrapping the beef in the salt ahead of time. You want to start cooking almost immediately after wrapping it up, because if left for too long the salt will soak up the majority of the juices and make the beef too salty to eat.
This is a meal you will definitely want to make for your next holiday party or when you want to show off for friends!
Lomo al Trapo - Grilled Salt-Encrusted Beef Tenderloin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: grill entree clean eating beef Christmas Easter fall summer winter
Ingredients (6-8 servings)
- 1.5- 2 LB kosher salt
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2.5 pounds center cut beef tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin and connective tissue
Light a chimney full of coal, and wait until the charcoal briquettes get covered in gray ash.
Run the cheesecloth under cold tap water and then wring thoroughly until just damp.
Lay the cheesecloth on the counter, with the short edge parallel to the counter edge.
Spread a layer of salt at least 1/2" thick on to the towel, leaving a 2" space on the edges.
Layer the whole fresh herbs on top of the salt.
Place the beef on top of the herbs, on the edge closest to you.
Carefully oll the beef up until it is completely surrounded in salt. Tuck the leading edge of the towel into the roll (like you would sushi), fold in the sides (like you would a burrito), and then continue rolling until the beef is completely wrapped in the towel.
Using the butchers twice, tie the package every 1-2" intervals, tying as tightly as possible.
Pour the briquettes out and arrange on one side of a charcoal grate.
Place the beef package directly on the coals.
Partially cover the grill and cook for 10 minutes.
Flip the beef ad cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the package reads 95 degrees for rare and 105 degrees for medium-rare (take the temperature about 5 minutes after you flip).
Transfer the whole package to a metal tray and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120F for rare and 130F for medium-rare.
When ready to serve, carefully crack open the crust with the back of a knife and discard the burnt cloth and salt.
Use the back of your knife or a pastry brush to remove any excess salt (remove as much as you can!!!)
Slice the tenderloin and Enjoy!
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Recipe from Serious Eats
Recipe from Serious Eats