Salt-packed Roast Beef
This technique made an amazing roast!
24 ounces trimmed and clean beef tenderloin
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons finely and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 pounds kosher salt (Diamond Crystal only)
1 ½ cups cold water
Heat a large, heavy cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 whole minutes and make sure the hood is on. Rub the fillet with 1 tablespoon oil, then sprinkle and coat evenly with black pepper. Brown the meat thoroughly on every side and the cut ends so that you have formed a nice crust universally around the fillet, creating a barrier for the coming salt crust. (This takes 7 to 8 minutes to brown correctly.) Remove the meat from the pan and let cool on a wire rack set in a sheet pan to have a cool and mostly dry piece of meat.
Mix the salt with the water to form what looks like bright white wet sand. Spread a thin but solid and even layer of salt on the bottom of a 1/4 sheet pan and set the roast on it, then pack the remaining moist salt tidily around the browned meat, forming a solid case resembling a cast on a broken leg. Where there are cracks, redistribute the salt and fix them. If you need more salt or more water or less water and more salt, mix up whatever mortar you need to get the beef encased.
Place the salt-crusted beef on its sheet pan into a 250-degree oven and let it cook for 45 minutes. If you weighed it properly at the outset, 45 minutes at 250 degrees is fail-safe. Otherwise, use an insta-read thermometer and go in through a cut end to the direct center, and pull it when it hits 125 degrees inside.
Crack the salt crust, dust the granules of clinging salt off with a clean, dry side towel, and set to rest. Slice thinly to serve.
Adapted from here.
- My 2 pound roast took about an hour and 20 minutes, and its internal temperature only reached about 120° before I pulled it out. However, it was Perfect. Literally Perfect. It served 4 generously.
- My next roast was 2 and a half pounds and also only took an hour; but I think this was because it was a flatter roast than usual (I didn't tie it).