Now, I’ve talked a lot about grilling and barbecue of late, but I’ve only made grilled fruit. I understand your torment, dear readers. I just wanted to be certain my first grilled meat dish for you guys was cool. So I held a Facebook vote! Which almost no one read, because I’m bad at promoting content on Facebook. We got one vote where we were SUPPOSED TO, then 3 votes in completely different ways. Which I accepted, because I love enthusiasm. Sighing heavily, because, you know, my love of reading comprehension. In any case, we’re going to make the winner of the kinda-secret-vote-in-that-the-voting-area-wasn’t-well-labeled-and-only-I-know-I’m-being-accurate Vote! I want to make a joke about Democratic primaries here, but I also don’t want flame wars. Well, not here at least. So let’s move on to Lomo al Trapo, and assure you that, while you may have been waiting for this post, I’ve been waiting a lot longer.
I make you Shudder with Antici-
Have I really not made this Rocky Horror Referenc before? RESEARCH TEAM, CHECK THE BACKLOG. Wait, they tragically died in the Smell-o-vision incident. Guess I’ll have to take it on faith. In any case, the first thing you should know about this dish is I’ve wanted to make it for over five years. I was immediately taken with the recipe when I read how to make it, because it relies on what Aristotle claimed was the least important part of a play, and what Michael Bay thinks is the only important part of a movie: Spectacle.
Mr Bay's counterargument was compelling, but predictable.
There are many spectacle-based dishes. Basically anything that uses burning brandy, for instance. The turducken is practically impossible to make well, but is ostentatious enough to drive people to try. Of course, spectacle as the core of a dish isn’t anything new. France once made a dish based on catching a small songbird, gorging it in captivity before drowning it in brandy and eating it whole, bones and all. Supposedly, one had to eat it under a napkin to hide their sin from God. Who is apparently less omnipresent demiurge, more invisible toddler.
So, sometimes, it’s the IDEA of a dish alone that makes it alluring. And to me, lomo al trapo is just like that. Translated, it means “Tenderloin in cloth”. Because, that’s exactly what it is: a beef tenderloin encased in salt, wrapped in a damp cloth or tea-towel, and dropped onto the burning coals of a fire. The towel burns, the salt hardens, and the beef cooks inside. It always struck me as so cool, a cooking method literally consisting of “throw it in the fire”. And the risk! Beef tenderloin, as anyone who’s ordered a filet mignon knows, is goddamn expensive. STEAKS of it go for $20 a pound at a butcher’s shop. Also, you gotta have a towel you’re willing to burn, but are also fine with it touching your food.
So I brooded for years, taunted by this silver-medal of decadence (Let’s be clear, we were never beating the French Sin-Sparrow dish.) as it sat beyond my meager means. But, driven by you, the fans, I have done it!
-PATION. Yeah, Lick those lips!
You remember what I said filet mignon’s expensive? That’s important. See, Filet Mignon (which, fun fact, colloquially translates to “Dainty Meat”) is from a cut of tenderloin. Specifically, the Center cut. Why is this relevant? Well, see…It’s real hard to find center cut tenderloin ROASTS when summer’s just started, and butchers can get double or triple their money cutting it into steaks. So, when I went out to buy the meat, my journey took me to a variety of destinations:
Costco had tenderloin, at 4+ pounds, and $100 a pop.
My local butcher ran out of tenderloin that morning.
Eventually, I turned up a meat market who, when I asked “you have center cut tenderloin?” said “Yeah, plenty of ‘em!” Which was a great relief. Until I got there, and realized that he had parsed my request as “I’m too stupid to know what filet mignon is”, which, to be fair, they had plenty. I sighed, and, now 2.5 hours into meat-hunting, said, “Sure, whatever.”
The next day my mother drove to Albertsons, and got what we needed in around 15 minutes. So, you know, sometimes, try the easiest option first.
Of course, having an excess of meat is rarely a great issue.
Anywho, once you’ve got the meat, the recipe for lomo is amazingly simple: Get your coals burning, then make the log. The log is just wet cloth wrapped around oregano and salt wrapped around meat. Tie it up, and toss it on the coals. Now, when I first approached my family about this dish, it was brought up that we don’t have a charcoal grill. Or, rather, we didn’t know where it was. So I searched high and low, and didn’t find it, and eventually, we turned to perhaps the most American thing I’ve ever heard of: A disposable, one-use grill.
And Alexander wept, for he saw there was no more world to conquer.
This testament to American ingenuity in trash creation in hand, I was certain that it was going to be blue skies from here on out. Set up the little dickens, light the coals (Ours briefly “whumpfed” like they were going to explode), and wait till they get ashy, and then you just toss that bad boy on!
After 10 minutes of Myself, our Alcohol Editor JJ, and Site Shrew-Tamer Glen Milligan arguing about how much beer was an irresponsible amount to drink while tending burning coals on a lawn, we flipped it, and let me tell you, it was one UGLY sumbitch.
Like a leper and a burnt marshmallow had a child.
But ten more minutes later, we took the lomo out, cracked it out of the shell, and served it, and it was great.
It looked a little like I killed the Luck Dragon from Neverending Story.
In Glen’s words “It’s not like, upsettingly salty, but it is very salty.” And he was right. Somehow, the crust brought the meat right to the razor’s edge of too salty, but held it. The oregano helped, in my opinion. But yeah, at the end of the day, we had great meat, and a cast made of salt! And if that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.
Shai-Hulud! Bless the Maker and his Water, Bless the Comings and the Goings of Him. For THE SPICE MUST FLOW!
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NEXT TIME: I REALLY NEED TO PAY ATTENTION WHEN ALAN TELLS ME WHAT HE’S MAKING INSTEAD OF HUMMING THE GUMMI-BEARS THEME SONG IN MY HEAD. And coming up this Wednesday, something COMPLETELY unrelated to Barbecue (thank god)
Also, follow us on Twitter, because we took a ton of fun pictures of this week’s meal that we’ll be uploading all week.
Lomo al Trapo
Serves 2 (The recipe can be easily doubled, or tripled, however. Just make more logs.)
1 center-cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed of silverskin and fat, 12-16 oz. (Ask the butcher for help here. It’ll cost a bit, but it’s worth it.)
Salt. All of the Salt. (at least 2 cups) (My family bought a new 1.5 pound container, and used the whole thing for 2.)
1 tablespoon dried oregano.
Cloth or a thin tea-towel, cut to roughly a 5” by 5” square (you can use bigger cloth, but it makes it harder to unfold.
- Light your charcoal in your grill, and set the grate aside.
- Wet your towel, and Lay it out in a diamond pattern, with a point at the bottom, toward you.
- Spread the salt over the towel. You want it to be roughly ¼” high on the towel, and within an inch of each side. (Bigger towels will take more salt.) Sprinkle the oregano over the salt.
- Put the meat about 3 inches above the bottom point, and just tightly roll to the middle. Once there, fold the outer corners in, and roll shut.
- Tie the bundle shut with kitchen twine, and toss the whole thing on the coals.
- Cook 10 minutes, then turn using long handled tongs. Cook another 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer hammered in says 130.
- Remove lomo from heat, and remove from crust within 5 minutes. Let sit another 5 before serving.