Beef fil­let braaied in a cloth

go! Platteland - - DINNER CLUB AT OURS -

Serves 6 Prepa­ra­tion time 5 min­utes Cook­ing time 18 min­utes

This might sound crazy but it’s an old tech­nique the Colom­bians use to braai meat di­rectly on the coals that re­cently be­came pop­u­lar af­ter the US culi­nary au­thor Steven Raichlen wrote about it in Planet Bar­be­cue!. It’s a very sim­ple method that any­one can mas­ter, and also hap­pens to be the best way I’ve ever used to cook fil­let on the coals. Apart from the dramatic im­pact of plac­ing the meat onto the coals wrapped in a cloth, it also cooks evenly all the way through and re­mains juicy, with a melt-in-the-mouth tex­ture and de­li­cious smoky flavour. But, best of all, this is the eas­i­est way to pre­pare fil­let for a group of peo­ple. There’s no guess­work in­volved and the recipe truly is flop-proof. Just wait for the mo­ment when you cut away the charred cloth to re­veal a perfect piece of meat!

The big se­cret? Make sure the coals are hot, that the meat is put onto the coals im­me­di­ately af­ter you wrap it up cov­ered in salt, and that ev­ery­thing else is ready so you can eat as soon as the meat is cooked.

You need

• 1 whole beef fil­let of about 1,2kg

(you’ll need at least 150g per per­son) • 1 clean cot­ton dish­cloth • 1 glass (200ml) red wine • 3 cups (750ml) coarse sea salt or

kosher salt • herbs of your choice – try 5 sprigs

rose­mary, ore­ganum or thyme • string made of nat­u­ral fi­bres • chopped herbs of your choice to serve

This is how Get ev­ery­thing ready

Pre­pare a large pile of coals in your braai – use hard­wood for lovely hot coals, which must be ready be­fore you con­tinue with the rest of the recipe. Once the meat has been wrapped in the cloth, it has to be on the coals within 15 min­utes or the mois­ture it con­tains will cause the salt to melt and the meat will ab­sorb too much of it. The pur­pose of the salt is to make a thick crust that pro­tects the fil­let.

Use a long, clean cloth that’s 5cm longer than the length of the fil­let and wide enough to wrap around the meat twice – a dish­cloth, two lay­ers of cheese­cloth or an old sheet you’ve cut up would work well.

Clean the fil­let – re­move any sinews or mem­branes – and en­sure that the meat is of equal thick­ness (re­move the thin tip or fold it back and se­cure with tooth­picks or string).

Soak the cloth in the wine, wring it out slightly and spread it on a work sur­face. Sprin­kle the salt in an even layer about a ½cm thick onto the cloth, fol­lowed by the herbs.

Place the meat length­wise on the edge of the cloth and roll it up tightly like a sausage, so that the cloth winds around the meat twice. Fold in the free edges as you roll up the meat and use string to se­cure the meat par­cel tightly. You should now have a sturdy cylin­dri­cal shape.

Place the meat par­cel di­rectly onto the hot coals. If you are us­ing a ket­tle braai, it won’t be nec­es­sary to use the lid, but you could if the coals aren’t hot enough or if it’s windy. I placed three hot coals on top of the par­cel too. The coals should be hot enough for the cloth to catch alight here and there – don’t worry if it looks like the whole lot is turn­ing to ash. Af­ter ex­actly 9 min­utes, turn the par­cel and ar­range it so that it rests snugly in the hot coals. Re­move the meat af­ter ex­actly an­other 9 min­utes.

Test the meat with a ther­mome­ter if you like – I had to use a sharp metal skewer to poke a hole in the cloth through which to slide the ther­mome­ter. Insert the ther­mome­ter into the cen­tre of the meat. If the in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture is be­tween 52ºC and 58ºC, the meat is medium. Re­move it from the coals sooner rather than later. Al­low the whole par­cel to rest for 5 min­utes while you heat the to­mato but­ter sauce.

Use a sharp knife or a pair of scis­sors to cut open the par­cel. (Don’t get a fright if the meat seems pale! Once the sauce is poured over, it will look mouth­wa­ter­ing and, be­lieve me, it tastes de­li­cious.) Re­move the fil­let from the crust, wipe off any salt and place it on a clean wooden board. Brush a ta­ble­spoon or two of melted but­ter or olive oil over the meat and gar­nish with chopped herbs.

Heat the to­mato but­ter sauce (recipe op­po­site), slice the fil­let at the ta­ble and serve to­gether – the sauce will keep the meat warm.

Okay, here we go To serve

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