All about Picanha
Let's talk about one of our favourite cuts of beef!
Picanha (Pee-can-ya) is a cut of beef that is really popular in Brazilian churrasqueira style BBQ. Taken from the top of the rump, right near the top tail end of the animal, it has various names depending on where you live in the world such as rump cover, top round, sirloin cap or rump cap. It is almost triangular in shape and surrounded by a thick layer of fat called a fat cap. This cap can be up to 1.5cm thick and provides bags of flavour that bastes the meat while it cooks.
The muscle is not a hard working piece in the day to day life of the animal so it stays really tender and full of flavour when it is cooked. It's the holy grail of Brazilian Churrasco BBQ prized even over rib eye. Traditionally it is cut into thick steaks and bent into a horseshoe/crescent shape which is then skewered and cooked over a wood/charcoal fire on a rotating spit. Picanha can range in size from 250g to 2Kg, nice and quick to cook and super delicious flavours! Generally cheaper than steaks of the same weight like tenderloin, fillet and rib eye, it's an impressive piece to cook!
When you buy a complete picanha it can be quite daunting to slice it up before skewering on the rotisserie. Cut the sections with the grain into slices about 3 inches thick. Then when it is cooked slice across the grain for the most tender ribbons of juicy meat! Slicing the meat into sections allows it to cook evenly. The outer layer is shaved off and eaten and then the skewer can be put back on the grill again if you like a little more cooking. If you cook a picanah whole, the outside will be done long before any heat gets to the centre of the cut. It's essential to get a nice level of heat onto the fat cap so it renders and bastes the cuts.Cook the cuts to medium at most! The fat will render down fairly quickly so watch out for flare ups in your BBQ. You can place a foil tray directly under the meat to catch these fats and stop them hitting the coals. Cooking time will depend on how hot your grill is but these cook fairly quickly so allow 15-30 minutes plus 10 minutes to rest after coming off the grill.
Make sure you bring the meat to room temperature, trim as needed, remove any membrane. Season with A&O Texas Steak rub or A&O Montreal Steak seasoning. Place the steaks onto a rotisserie skewer and set up your bbq for cooking. We use a Kamado BBQ and place hot coals at the back of the bbq only. The meat rotates over the coals long enough to give great colour. We cook with the lid down and add in a couple of wood chunks to impart extra smokey flavour. We’ve tried cherry and hickory mixed for this cut and its fabulous! Keeping the lid down also stops the flare ups while the wood smoke adds colour and flavour to the meat.