|1 1/2 - 2 kg
|dried thyme — powdered
|black pepper — freshly ground
|dark brown sugar
Prepare the smoker/ kettle braai
Prepare your smoker or kettle braai for offset heat. The fillet needs to cook gently and slowly. Once the coals are ready add the smoking chips and the prepared fillet.
Preparing the rub
Combine the cayenne pepper, paprika, nutmeg, allspice, thyme powder, coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small pan. Toast over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool in the pan. Stir in the brown sugar. The spice mix will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
Preparing the fillet
Remove the fillet from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. If the fillet has not been trimmed by the butcher you need to trim the fillet. On the thin end of the fillet slide the blade of a sharp knife between the meat and the shiny connective tissue (silver skin). Immediately begin to pull the connective tissue back away from the meat as you continue to cut between the meat and the connective tissue, until you reach the head of the fillet. Work in strips if necessary and repeat the process if required, to remove all the silver skin.
Tying the fillet
The fillet needs to be prepared for the smoking process by tying or trussing it, this helps to keep its shape and good presentation. Use butchers’ twine and tie it at intervals of 3-4 cm, starting at the thick end of the fillet and folding over the tail end to keep the fillet a consistent thickness. This ensures even cooking of the whole fillet.
Use 30 cm lengths of butcher’s twine, tie a loose knot around one end of the meat and pull until snug to make an anchor knot. Pull a length of twine away from the anchor to create a large loop. Loop it around the tenderloin. Space it about 3-4 cm from the anchor knot and tie a second knot. Pull more twine to create a third loop and secure it 3-4 cm from the second knot. Continue tying the roast crosswise at 3-4 cm intervals until the fillet is evenly tied. The butcher’s ties can be made by cutting individual pieces of butcher’s twine and binding each piece individually or by creating a twine vine.
Once you have tied the meat, season it with olive oil and sprinkle the fillet with a tablespoon of the rub mixture (refer to the recipe), cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preparing the fillet – smoking
Smoke the fillet in a smoker at 120°C – 125°C for an hour or until the internal temperature reaches 48°C-50°C. The fillet will continue to cook when it is seared and while it’s resting.
Preparing the fillet – searing
After smoking the fillet, you sear the meat, a technique known as reverse searing, to get that beautifully browned crust on the outside. Sear the fillet by either rolling it across a hot cast iron griddle or barbeque grill to get an external crust and a 54°C degrees internal temperature of the meat before resting.
Double wrap the fillet in foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Resting the meat helps to contain the juices and not leak out immediately as it’s sliced.
Preparing the fillet for service
Remove the fillet from the foil, place on a platter, slice in 2 cm slices, pour the meat juices collected in the foil over the meat and serve with a crunchy sorghum salad and roasted vegetables. This dish can be served at room temperature.
Beef and Lamb SA is the consumer education function of the Red Meat Industry Services (RMIS).
Recipe developed by Prof. Gerrie Du Rand. Photography by Michelle Parkin. Styling by Caro Alberts.