The first time I watched my Colombian born son-in-law cook Lomo al Trapo, I panicked. He took my priceless beef tenderloin, the only thing standing between me and a herd of hungry guests, and caked it in three pounds of salt!
Then he wrapped the meat in cheesecloth and tied it in a snug bundle—a process that required a number of hands.
I gasped as he dampened the bundle and tossed it onto the fireplace like a stick of wood. I paced the floor in front of the hearth as he reclined calmly in a nearby chair sipping a Coke.
Thirty minutes later, the wrapped meat looked like a charred log. I moaned as the “remains” were lifted from the fire. Agghhh!!! I wondered if I had enough ramen noodles on hand to serve dinner to a dozen people.
Then the magic kicked in. When he whacked the ugly clump with a hammer and chisel, the coating fell away like a plaster cast from a healed limb.
My jaw dropped! Before my eyes was a moist, perfectly seasoned tenderloin, medium done on the ends and beautifully pink in the middle. The salt had formed its own protective “oven.” We had Lomo al Trapo!
I breathed a sigh of relief and joined in the applause of this stunning culinary performance.
The ancient cooking style, once common place, seems like a risky maneuver in today’s kitchens, but it works. The blog site Food52.com salutes the impressive Colombian dish with a step-by-step, visual recipe for those unafraid to “try this at home.”