Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lomo al Trapo

Beef in a burned towel.

Sounds appetizing doesn't it? Okay, maybe not but it really turns out well and this is such a cool trick on the grill.

Lomo al trapo (literally "beef tenderloin in cloth") is a quite popular Colombian dish that I have been wanting to try since I read about it in Planet Barbecue! this spring. It uses "caveman cooking" which is cooking directly on the coals of a fire.

The first step is finding a suitable 16" square cloth to use. Keep in mind that this will be destroyed in the process. You want something linen like a tea towel or rolling cloth.

Wet the cloth, lightly wring it out, and lay it flat. Top it with 1/4 inch thick of coarse kosher salt. Yes, that will be a hell of a lot of salt, half a box or more. This and the cloth are going to be your protective barrier.

Now place your seasonings on to of the salt. I used fresh oregano but some of the videos and resources I reviewed also added garlic, cilantro, and black peppercorns.

Place a 12" piece of trimmed beef tenderloin at the center of one edge.

Roll the tenderloin up in the towel. Secure the ends with cooking twine and one or two places in the middle as well. The book showed doing this diagonally & tying the ends together but the other sources I looked at just rolled it up this way and it seemed easier.

Nothing I read told how hot to have your grill for this, just to use a bed of established coals. This would be quite easy just pouring a lit chimney of coals into a grill and spreading them out. End of story.

But the design of the Big Green Egg is to maximize efficiency, it doesn't burn all of the coal at once. So to get a full bed of coals, I only put a small amount of lump coal, barely up to the airholes on the fire box. I fired it up and brought the temp to 350f. I stirred the coals twice during the preheating to make sure all of them got lit so I had a somewhat even bed of coals.

Now it is as simple as placing the bundle directly on top of the coals for 9 minutes. It will start to smolder a bit, don't worry. Listen to your inner-caveman. Go draw stick figures of your successful hunt on your walls.

After 9 minutes, flip and let it go 8 more minutes. Don't be alarmed, it will be stiff and the towel will be burned.

Remove and let it cool off for 2 minutes.

Raichlen says you remove the towel and crack the salt crust off. For us, the salt and towel had fused into one protective coating that just all broke right off easily. The meat just lifted right out leaving the shell behind.

Then you just brush off any leftover bits of salt with a basting brush and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

I worried that the tenderloin had been overcooked to medium from the outer appearances, but it was cooked just to medium rare like we like it.

I was going to serve it with a fiery salsa from the book called Aji but it was too hot. Instead, I made a cream sauce by reducing a cup of heavy cream, 2 tbsp of the Aji, and 1/2 teaspoon of a mild ground red pepper and that was perfect! We served this with two Colombian side dishes from Erica at My Colombian Recipes, arroz con Coca-cola (yes, rice with Coke) and a spinach cake.

I admit I wasn't confident how this was going to turn out, but at 350f the 9 and 8 minute time frames were spot on. I wouldn't make it this way every time but it is definitely worthy of a special event or when you want to "wow" guests with this quirky presentation.

27 comments:

  1. That's really freakin' awesome!

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  2. Interesting! I'm not sure that I'd be willing to sacrifice any of my linens :) but it is a pretty cool presentation and the meat looks perfect. Nice meal! Have a great weekend Chris.

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  3. Maybe the burnt towel is an acquired taste///

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  4. very cool! The meat looks incredible. I am going to try that rice too.

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  5. This turned out great Chris. You are much braver than I am. I get scared when we put a tenderloin in a 500+ degree oven, thinking it will overcook. I'm so glad you gave this a try. I'm bookmarking it for my grill man Meakin. As you know, he likes to live dangerously.
    Sam

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  6. I'm so glad that you made this recipe Chris! It really caught my attention when looking through the book. The beef looks like it cooked perfectly and I love that you made an aji cream sauce. Looks like a fantastic meal.

    (I just posted puerto rican grilled pork chops from the book and they were a big hit).

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  7. Great job on an enticing recipe. It looks wonderful. I saw Steve Raichlen do this on his Primal Grill show and I couldn't take my eyes off the show.

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  8. Great cooking concept and excellent job using it. Thanks for posting - I'll have to try this.

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  9. I'm not worthy . . . :)

    This is amazing - I've read about salt crusted roasting, but have never been adventurous enough to try it. Bravo! And I love lines like, "Don't be alarmed, it will be stiff and the towel will be burned." Now there's some food drama. :D This looks seriously good.

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  10. Oh my gosh! That is just amazing. I'll be stealing that idea for my blog. Another amazing job, Chris.

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  11. I saw this recipe and thought it was very interesting! I only have a gas grill, so it was one of those things I thought I might never try, but now that I see how wonderful it turned out for you....maybe it's time to invest in a charcoal grill too! The meat looks beautiful!

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  12. My gosh that's amazing Chris! As you know I have a charcoal and a gas grill but I'm not sure I'm confident enough to try this, especially with an expensive cut of meat like that! I am duly impressed.

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  13. that is so cool! I saw my first green egg up close and personal while I was visiting my folks. I wish my dad would do some reading (or watch the dang video that came with it) so he'd learn all the great things he could do. Anyways....I bought by husband planet barbecue for fathers day....i'm going to bookmark this recipe :)

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  14. I'm with Jenn (above) this sounds so interesting that I might just go buy us a charcoal grill! Very impressive! My cavemen would lap this up - and burning towels is practically an everyday occurrence...the boy can't get it through his head that leaving a towel/newspaper/mail on top or near the the burner can be a problem! Loved the "stick figures" bit - can't wait to tell the mister to do just that!!! xo, Nan

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  15. Hmm, last night I cooked sous vide in a cooler. Turned our fab! Maybe tonite I'll try this. Talk about extremes!!

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  16. How cool! I saw Raichlen's show a couple of weeks ago where he made this. It looks like yours turned out perfectly!

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  17. I have to admit, I was not convinced when you pulled out that towel. My caveman tendencies were telling me to go forage for food because this dinner was going to be seriously ruined.

    However. You surprised me with this meat's deliciousness, It looks perfectly cooked! Crazy.

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  18. I've never seen anything like this! What a neat trick! I thought it might catch on fire or be so salty it would be inedible. It looks totally delicious!

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  19. *POW!* *!BAM* Stop hitting me with this darn good food...I need a rare steak for my black eye now...

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  20. I've never heard of cooking beef like this... it turned out just the way I like it. The sauce sounds fantastic too.

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  21. How cool is this? Wonder if this would work in our little hibachi? Don't think it would work on our gas grill (and yes, I know we need an egg, but we need a place to put the egg which we don't have...someday...promise!)

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  22. You've inspired me to give this a try. Looks fantastic!

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  23. If you salt roast veggies, you can salt grill meat in a towel. :) This is very cool!

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  24. that piece of steak makes my mouth watery!! perfect way to cook it eh??

    Have a fabulous week!!
    jen @ www.passion4food.ca

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  25. Wow - that's amazing! Fun preparation and beautiful result. P.S. I love the way you captured the flame in this and the pork chop post.

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  26. Hey I just did this for New Year's Day! I didn't realize you'd done it as well. It was a funky kind of a cook, wasn't it? Have you done it since? I'm not sure whether I'd do it again.

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  27. I try to do this at parties as often as I can. It's an absolute smash every time. Did about a 2 1/2 pounder last night with 12 minutes per side. Came out a bit underdone, just foiled it up for 5m and it was unreal.

    One trick I've found, is don't skimp on the salt and don't bother using anything fancy. I use 2lb of dollar store salt for the bigger ones. Also try whipping one egg white into the 2lb salt. It makes it a whole lot easier to work with.

    Don't be afraid to try this, everyone who eats will think you're a superstar!

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