This buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delight is cooked over charcoal, giving it a delicious smoky essence. With simple seasoning, this steak is a true treat for your taste buds.
What is Picanha?
Picanha, also known as rump cap, is a well-loved beef cut in Brazil. It is sourced from the biceps femoris muscle, near the rump of the cow, along with its fat cap. In the United States, it is commonly referred to as rump cap, rump cover, or top sirloin cap. Bursting with flavor akin to sirloin, this cut is exceptionally juicy.
If you’ve had the pleasure of dining at a Brazilian steakhouse, you’re likely familiar with picanha. It’s that delectable steak brought to your table on skewers, freshly sliced and grilled right onto your plate. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to resist this beef cut, regardless of how full I am. It’s simply irresistible.
Picanha can be prepared using various cooking methods, but this recipe follows the popular technique used in Brazilian steakhouses. The picanha, including the fat cap, is curved, skewered, and cooked over high heat charcoal, providing an authentic look and flavor.
This steak is so incredible that we keep the seasoning pure and simple. All you’ll need for this recipe is good, kosher flake salt. Don’t settle for any regular salt. Table salt won’t do. Opt for a coarse, flaky salt to enhance the taste. Flake salt is preferable as it allows you to gauge the right amount of salt, preventing under or over-seasoning the meat.
Where to Buy Picanha?
Locating picanha can be a challenge, so it’s best to establish a good relationship with your local butcher and purchase it from them. If you’re lucky, your butcher might even prepare the steaks, making them ready for the grill. Otherwise, with a little extra effort, you can cut and prep the steaks for skewering.
Here are some tips for purchasing picanha:
It is often labeled as top sirloin. While a knowledgeable butcher will understand your request for “picanha,” to be safe, you can simply ask for top sirloin.
The roast should include the fat cap. When purchasing top sirloin, you’ll receive a whole roast that needs to be cut into individual steaks for skewering. The roast resembles a tri-tip with three points.
How to Cook Picanha
Now, let’s explore the process of cooking picanha. If you prefer visual guidance, refer to the video accompanying this recipe in the printable recipe card.
PREP AND SKEWER THE MEAT:
Cut the roast into 1.5-2″ steaks. If the steaks have already been prepared, there’s no need for further cutting.
Fold the steaks in half to form a C-shape and skewer them using two metal skewers, ensuring the fat side is on the outside. This prevents the meat from falling off while cooking.
FIRE UP THE CHARCOAL GRILL:
Preheat your charcoal grill to high heat (around 500 degrees F) for two-zone grilling, mimicking the rotisserie experience without an actual rotisserie.
GRILL THE STEAKS:
Place the steaks between the hot and cool zones on the grill.
Flip the steaks every 2-3 minutes, closing the lid between flips to ensure even cooking. The steaks will take approximately 20-25 minutes to reach medium-rare doneness. Start checking the temperature after 15 minutes.
Remove the steaks from the grill when the temperature reaches 125-130 degrees F. This will result in a rare center and medium-rare exterior. As you slice the steak off the skewers, most people will enjoy the medium-rare outside cuts, while a few will savor the rarer interior. Use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature.
SLICE AND SERVE:
Serve your guests by slicing the meat directly off the skewer onto plates.
There you have it! Even if you can’t visit a Brazilian steakhouse in the near future, fret not! With a little effort, you can recreate these fantastic flavors right in your own backyard.
- 3 picanha steaks (approximately 2 lbs total)
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt or coarse kosher salt
- Preheat your charcoal grill. If you have access to a rotisserie, you can use that instead. Set up your charcoal grill with two zones and open the vents all the way. Aim for a high temperature, around 500+ degrees F.
- Prep the meat. Skewer the picanha with two metal skewers to secure each steak. As picanha has a fat cap on one side, curve the steaks into a C-shape, ensuring the fat cap is on the outside of the C. Season the steaks on all sides with salt.
- Grill the steaks. Place the skewers directly on the charcoal grill, positioning them in the middle between the hot and cool zones. Flip the steaks every 2 minutes to mimic a rotisserie experience. Cook the steaks to your preferred doneness.
- For medium-rare, grill for about 15-20 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F.
- Rest, slice, and serve. Remove the picanha from the grill and let them rest. Use a heating pad to hold the skewers while securing them underneath, then slice thin pieces of steak from the outside, working your way in.
Now, get ready to savor the succulent and smoky flavors of Grilled Picanha. With a little bit of dedication, you can bring the taste of Brazil to your own backyard. Enjoy every juicy bite!