Brilliant. That’s what we think of this salt-crusted beef tenderloin recipe from chef Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in New York City’s East Village. It’s brilliance lies in the simple fact that the insanely flavorful juices are trapped within the roast during cooking. That’s it. Well, there’s also the fact that it’s ridiculously easy to pull off for guests. The intriguing bread crumb salsa lends a lovely acidity to the rich roast, although it’s not requisite to the appreciation of the perfectly medium-rare meat.–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC What Folks Are Saying About This Recipe Note
“The most succulent roast I’ve had in a long time.” “Everyone should try this cooking method.” “Astonishing.” “Perfectly beefy.” “I am at a loss for words.” That’s what folks are saying about this salt-crusted beef tenderloin recipe.
Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 6
- For the roast beef
- 24 ounces beef tenderloin, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 2 teaspoons finely and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds kosher salt*, preferably Diamond Crystal
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups cold water
- For the bread crumb salsa (optional)
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces day-old peasant bread, torn into free-form small-ish “croutons”
- 1 pound assorted sweet cherry tomatoes, split in half
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced thinly in rings, from the white all the way up through as much of the green stalk as is edible
- 4 small cloves fresh and sticky new garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 packed tablespoon plus 1 packed teaspoon salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, filleted, and then minced
- 2 lemons, zested, supremed, seeded, and all the juice from what’s left of the skeleton after supreming the segments
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup clean, dry, flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Make the roast beef
- 1. Preheat the oven to 250°F (121°C). Heat a large, heavy, cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat for 5 whole minutes and make sure the hood is on. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
- 2. Using your hands, rub the grapeseed oil over the beef to coat all sides and then sprinkle evenly with black pepper.
- 3. Brown the beef tenderloin, using tongs to occasionally turn it so it gets thoroughly browned on every side—including the ends. You want it to have a nice crust universally around the meat. This takes 7 to 8 minutes to brown correctly. A good sear creates a barrier for the upcoming salt crust.
- 4. Remove the meat from the pan and let it cool on the wire rack.
- 5. Mix the salt with the water to form what looks like bright white wet sand. Start with 1 1/4 cups water and, if necessary, add more water, a little at a time.
- 6. When the beef is cool and mostly dry, spread a thin but solid and even layer of salt on the bottom of a 1/4-sheet pan or smallish roasting pan and set the cooled roast on it. Pack the remaining moist salt tidily around the browned meat to create a solid case. It should be like a cast on a broken leg. Where there are cracks, redistribute the salt and patch them. This should be a fun and unfussy task. If you need more salt or more water or more of both, mix up whatever you need and get the beef encased. If you use a cut of meat that’s larger than 1 1/2 pounds, you’ll need more salt and water to encase it. And if you’re having a tricky time with the salt mixture adhering, dump it in a bowl and add an egg white and try again.
- 7. If you have an oven-safe instant thermometer, insert it through the salt into the beef. Place the salt-crusted beef and its pan in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. If you weighed the beef properly at the outset, 45 minutes at 250°F (121°C) is fail-safe for medium-rare. Otherwise, use an instant thermometer and go in through a cut end of the tenderloin and insert it directly into the center. The beef is ready to take out of the oven when it hits 125°F (52°C) in its center.
- 8. Crack the salt crust, dust away the granules of clinging salt with a clean, dry towel, and place the beef on your counter.
- Make the bread crumb salsa (optional)
- 9. In a small, deep-sided sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. The oil should be just deep enough to submerge the first tip of your index finger. (Good olive oil is rarely recommended for frying, so don’t ever do this when you go on to work in a real restaurant, but Hamilton really prefers the flavor it adds.)
- 10. When the oil makes beautiful, veinous, streaking patterns in the pan, which will move faster as the oil gets hotter, drop in a piece of crouton as a test. When it sizzles on contact, the oil is ready. Do not let the oil smoke.
- 11. Fry the croutons until golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon, and drain in a stack of basket-style coffee filters or on brown paper bags. Set the oil aside to cool.
- 12. Mix together the tomatoes, scallions, garlic, anchovies, lemon flesh and zest and juice, and the red wine vinegar and toss well. Toss in the fried bread croutons and dress with 1/3 cup now-cool olive oil left from frying.
- 13. Rough up the parsley leaves by briskly rubbing them between your hands just to release the grassy aroma. Toss them in the salsa. Sparingly season the salsa with salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the filet will bring its own seasoning to the plate.
- Assemble the dish
- 14. Slice the beef to order, keeping portions at 6 ounces. Arrange the slices on each plate, overlapping the slices slightly. Drape a good, generous spoonful of salsa over the meat, if using, being careful to let the perfect wall-to-wall pink of the filet show and don’t hide that beauty under carelessly placed salsa. Drizzle the beef with some of the remaining fry oil to finish. Do not season further.
*Kosher Salt Note
- Different brands tend to have different size crystals, so the weight and volume will vary from one brand to the next. Chef Gabrielle Hamilton uses Diamond Crystal, but feel free to use whatever brand of kosher salt you have on hand. Just know that you might need a little more or a little less than precisely 2 pounds, depending on the size of the crystals.
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Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin Recipe © 2014 Gabrielle Hamilton. Photo © 2014 Eric Wolfinger. All rights reserved.
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