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Beef Tenderloin in Salt

Beef Tenderloin in Salt

  • When I first heard of cooking something entirely in salt, I was positive that I was on the receiving end of a very good joke.

    It just doesn’t seem possible that you could cook something entirely encased in salt and have it turn out okay, but before you discount it remember a few things about salt:

    It’s a rock! If you use large crystals (coarse kosher salt) they won’t dissolve easily.
    Because it’s a rock, retains heat and moisture really nicely.

    So when you’re cooking something in salt, it’s as if you are cooking something in its own little custom-built cave – a cave that keeps all the delicious moisture and flavor trapped in the meat.

    The way to do this correctly is to make a dough out of the salt and then completely wrap your subject in this dough.

    What can you cook in salt? Well, you’re going to want to cook large, thick things in it. So while you wouldn’t want to cook a fish fillet in it (too thin and fragile), you could cook an entire fish in it. Again, a larger fish like a snapper would be best.

    One of the easiest things to cook in salt is beef – specifically a beef tenderloin or maybe a prime rib.

    For this walkthrough on the salt cooking process, I decided to cook a Salt-Crusted Beef Tenderloin.

    Making the salt dough isn’t hard at all. You do need a lot of salt though! Be sure to use coarse kosher salt for this. If you use table salt you’ll be in for a very unpleasant experience.

    Add the egg whites and water to your salt and stir it well to combine everything. Then add your flour and stir it together to form a dough ball. Knead the ball for a few minutes until it forms a firm dough. If it’s sticky at all, knead in more flour!

    Wrap this up in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. You could make this hours in advance if you wanted, though.

    On to the tenderloin! The amount of salt dough in this recipe is for a two pound tenderloin. If you wanted to do a full tenderloin (approximately 6 pounds), then you would want to multiply the salt dough recipe by three to make sure you have enough.

    Cut off any large pieces of fat or silver skin from the tenderloin (or ask your friendly butcher to do it for you). Then season it with salt and pepper and sear it really well in a very hot skillet with olive oil.

    It should sear for about 3 minutes per side and be very nicely browned.

    Once it’s seared, let the tenderloin cool down to room temperature. If your tenderloin is misshaped at all, tie it with some kitchen twine so it’s a nice even shape. This is actually fairly important so you get an even temperature in your finished tenderloin.

    Once you’re ready to bake this thing, roll your salt dough out on a flat surface. You want it to be about ¼ inch thick.

    Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs and then plop your tenderloin right in the center.

    Fold up all the edges and crimp them together really well so they tenderloin is completely sealed in the dough. Cut off any excess dough around the edges, but make sure there aren’t any holes!

    Bake this guy at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes for a medium rare tenderloin. Once it comes out of the oven, let it rest for another 30 minutes. There’s tons of heat trapped in the salt dough and it will continue to cook long after you take it out of the oven!

    Note that because it’s an even thickness, even if you were cooking a 6-pound tenderloin, you would still only need to cook it for 35 minutes and then let it rest for 30 minutes.

    While your tenderloin is cooking and resting, feel free to play with any extra dough you have left over.

    It acts (and tastes – couldn’t help myself) pretty much like Play Dough.

    I made a little Play Dough cow while I was waiting.

    Sorry. Back to the tenderloin. After a 30-minute rest, use a knife to carefully break into the dough. It’ll be really strong.

    Once you crack it open, delicious smells will fill your kitchen.

    Peel back the dough from one end of the tenderloin and then carefully slide the entire tenderloin out of the shell.

    Then just slice it up! Mine was a perfect medium rare.

    I served my tenderloin with some roasted potatoes and a cucumber and tomato salad.

    The beef is so tender and juicy it doesn’t even need a sauce. It’s perfect as is!

    This is kind of a strange preparation, but I promise the results are worth it. Plus, it’s a showstopper when you pull out this strange salt-encrusted thing out of the oven and start breaking it open!

    Perfect Pairings: Salty-Sweet Desserts

    Salted Butterscotch Pudding Recipe
    Salted Caramel Turtle Triangles Recipe
    Salted Chocolate Almond Fudge Recipe

    When Nick was a kid he used to eat Play Dough for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure to check o...

Beef Tenderloin – Salt & Pepper

The whole beef tenderloin roast is sometimes called a “whole filet”, a “filet mignon roast”, or a “tenderloin tip roast”. It is a long, tapered muscle located on the inside of the short loin, extending from the 13th rib to the pelvis.

A whole tenderloin has three distinct areas:

  • The large end, called the butt end. It actually resides in the sirloin section.
  • The small end, called the tail.
  • The center section, called the heart.

The tail is usually folded under the center section and tied to create even thickness for even cooking.

Beef tenderloin is the most expensive and most tender cut of beef, but it also has a reputation for mild taste because it does not contain a lot of intramuscular fat. Fortunately, with some careful trimming and a little bit of salt, pepper, and smoke, you can transform this cut into something really special for the holidays or any day!

Here’s a description and photos of how I cooked a whole beef tenderloin on November 19, 2005. Be sure to check-out the accompanying video for a quick overview of how to prep the meat for cooking.

Related Video

This was terrific! I had a hard time getting the salt to stick, it kept falling off in chunks - maybe more water? I had to be very careful not to bump on way and into oven, but once cooked it was delicious. And very easy clean up. Will definitely make again!

Too avoid an overly salty result I use rock salt instead of kosher salt. The salt forms a crust that is easy to break & brush off and will keep your roasting equipment clean as well.

Easy to make. Tender and juicy. Can also make with thyme.

Never made beef tenderloin before, and this one's a keeper. Absolutely wonderful Christmas Eve main course!

Easy to prepare and very good. I served this with pesto penne and fresh tomatoes.

Those who say the meat comes out juicy and tender are right. An easy suggestion for removing excess salt: rinse the cooked tenderloin briefly in running water! Pat it dry, and you are good to go.

This was the hit of our Christmas Eve get-together. I believe the recipe fails to recommend roasting this on a rack. Others commented that it is too salty and it would have been if roasted in the bottom of a pan surrounded by salt crust

I made this for Christmas, and it was very good. Some bites were still a bit salty, but everyone enjoyed it. But if I were to have another tenderloin roast, I would choose a different way to prepare it.

I was skeptical about the salted crust on this wonderful and expensive cut of beef, but it turned out absolutely wonderful and so tender, one did not need a fork to cut it! I am making this for Christmas Eve.

The name is not lying. it is very salty.

This is one of the easiest, best-tasting recipes I have ever tried. The meat turns our incredibly juicy and flavorful. I didn't find it too salty nor was the crust difficult to remove. In fact, I've made this twice and each time the salt crust split during cooking and was easily removed afterward.

We served this at a family event and everyone commented that it was wonderful. Based on other reviews, I was careful to scrape as much salt crust of as I could and nobody had a salty bite.

My family loves this. It is very easy to make and you can vary the spices, too.

I have made this twice because the meat tasted wonderful the first time but it was too salty - the second time I added more water to the salt to make it more like a paste. This made it a crust around the meat that came off easily. There was still salt on the meat, but much less than the first time.

The beef was definitely juicy, but it's difficult to get all the salt off. This results in some very salty bites. unfortunate. Tenderloin can lack flavor --not the case with this preparation. Just be careful to scrape as much salt off as you possibly can!

Super easy to prepare, let's the flavor of the meet come through.

Absolutely incredible. The meat was so succulent and melted in our mouths. VERY easy to prepare.

Entree Category Winner Daniel Ankrum

Servings: Serving size: 6-8


1/4 cup chopped fresh sage, divided 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups Diamond Crystal® kosher salt

4 teaspoons coarse ground pepper

2 1/2 to 3 lbs. well-trimmed beef tenderloin*

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Mix sage and parsley in small bowl set aside. Mix flour, Diamond Crystal® kosher salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons sage and parsley mixture in medium mixing bowl set aside. Cover and refrigerate remaining sage and parsley mixture.

Whisk egg whites and water in separate bowl until well blended stir into flour mixture (sprinkle with additional water if dough is too stiff to knead). Knead on lightly floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes. Place in bowl or plastic food storage bag cover and let stand at room temperature for 4 (or up to 24) hours.

Heat nonstick griddle or large skillet over high heat brush beef with olive oil. Place beef on griddle and brown evenly on all sides. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, on parchment paper or plastic wrap, roll dough out to ¼-inch thick rectangle (at least 2 inches longer than beef tenderloin). Cover loosely and set aside.

Sprinkle remaining herbs over tenderloin, pressing lightly. Place beef in center of dough. Bring sides of dough together to encase beef crimp to seal. Fold and crimp ends to enclose beef. Carefully place on large baking sheet. Roast about 25 to 35 minutes or until internal temperature of beef reaches 135°F to 145°F. , depending on desired doneness (temperature will rise as roast stands).

Remove from oven and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Cut and remove the salt crust discard crust. Slice beef and serve immediately. *Have butcher trim tenderloin for you **Roll dough on parchment or waxed paper for easier handling when wrapping roast.

How To Roast a Beef Tenderloin


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Reviews (4 reviews)

I served this recipe/method to my guests (10) this past Saturday. The salt-crusted method is just outstanding. I've read other reviews other places which complained about the high salt taste, so I wrapped the meat in parchment paper. I would recommend any having such concerns do the same. I took the meat out at 122 and had perfect medium rare. The temp increased about 10 degrees after taking it out of the oven. I thought that the vinaigrette was a bit on the acidic side, and I added some honey to soften the edge. Not to make it sweet, but just to soften. I used Klondike gourmet (small new) potatoes which were available. I microwaved and then finished in toaster oven. If they are available, I would recommend using. The melange of flavors was just stupendous in every way. It was really extraordinary how the beef cooked evenly throughout. It was juicy and tender--like none other. All of my guests enjoyed this meal. I will definitely serve this beautiful and elegant meal again. Thank you for this well-crafted recipe.

Made this for Christmas dinner. Beautifully tender, delicious, perfect. Guests raved, and so easy! Will definitely make again.

If you want to impress someone or share a special bottle of wine with friends - make this recipe. This is my "go to" recipe for a special occasion and it is so easy to prepare. The salt crust makes cooking this expensive cut of meat foolproof. Plus, it is a 1-dish meal with the meat, starch, and vegetable on 1-plate. Pair it with a simple light appetizer or salad and dessert and your guests will go away raving about the fantastic dinner they just had.

I have been making this recipe for years after much research. I cook the Xmas roast every year in my mother-in-law's poorly performing oven (&amp it's not that its old).. We tried many techniques to get a decent dinner put together and then I found this. Since we all like our roast medium rare I do not even have to poke a hole (that lets steam &amp heat out) but just rely on time and then letting it rest up to an hour. Meat is perfectly cooked &amp still hot for serving. I add herbs to the package for additional flavor. Just don't forget to sear the meat first. it's not a step you want to skip for it aids in keeping all of the juices where they belong.