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Slat-crusted grilled beef tenderloin

Grilled Tenderloin in a Salt Crust Recipe—Lomo al Trapo Recipe


Lomo al Trapo: a Colombian method of cooking a beef tenderloin surrounded by salt, rolled in a cotton towel, and cooked directly on hot coals.

Adapted from Kenji’s recipe for Lomo al Trapo.


  • 1 Center-cut of beef tenderloin, about 3 lb.
  • 3 lb. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs: rosemary, oregano, and/or thyme


  • 12 kitchen towels (100% cotton or linen)
  • Butcher’s twine


  • Light one chimney full of charcoal. Prepare the salt-crusted tenderloin while coals are heating.
  • Trim tenderloin of excess fat and silverskin.
  • Mince the herbs and combine them—but not the pepper—with the salt. Mix to distribute them evenly. 

Mixing herbs with salt

  • Lay your kitchen towels out on a work surface. If your loin is on the long side, lay two towels, overlapping, with the long side facing you. If it is shorter, one towel should suffice, with the short side facing you. 
  • Take double handfuls of herbed salt and let it drain from between your hands, hourglass-style, as you trace your way around the towels, leaving a 2-inch border.
  • Fill in this rectangle with salt the same way. Sprinkle pepper over the surface of the salt. 
    • Note: I found this part of the cook to be very satisfying and fun. 
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  • Preheat a heavy skillet over high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and sear the tenderloin well on all sides. 

Searing the tenderloin



  • Place the tenderloin on the bed of salt at the edge closest to you. Lift up the towel and, holding it tightly against the tenderloin, roll the loin forward, pushing the towel and salt with it. 

Starting to roll the tenderloin in the salt and towel

  • Continue to roll. When the towel makes almost one full circle around the meat, pull the front lip of it back so that the salt is in full contact all the way around the meat.

Still rolling the towel

  • Fold the sides of the towel in and continue rolling.
  • When the entire roll is ready, tie it every inch or two with butchers twine, being sure to secure the ends of the towel on the sides. 

Tying the towel around the beef



  • Pour hot coals onto the bottom grate of a kettle grill, smoker, or barrel-style cooker. Do not put the top grate in place.
  • Place the wrapped tenderloin directly onto the hot coals! Cover grill partially and cook for 10 minutes.
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  •  The bundle will almost certainly begin to flame, or it may not. No need to be alarmed if it does.

The towel igniting

  • Use tongs to flip the meat and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
    • The towel may burn through, exposing the meat. It’s ok if that happens! You can brush the ash off when the meat is done.

Turning the flamed-up roast

  • Spot-check the roast’s internal temperature with a Thermapen® ONE (you may need to forcefully puncture the towel with your Thermapen’s probe). Pull the tenderloin from the coals once the lowest internal temperature found reaches 105–110°F (41–43°C).

Temping the roast

  • Crack the package open (cut open with kitchen shears if it will not crack open), remove the tenderloin and brush off excess salt.
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  • Allow the roast to rest, exposed, for 5–10 minutes. 
  • Transfer roast to a carving board, slice, and serve with some of the roasted/charred smoky salt and salsa fresca or chimichurri sauce. Enjoy!

Salting the roast