Have you ever heard of “Picanha”?
If no, I understand. It is not a common name worldwide but worth this read.
The Brazilians as many other Latin Americans hold the picanha dear to their heart. It is a hefty bunch of beef seasoned with Brazillian style. It is grilled to instill intense flavors into each strand of meat. If you’re a fanatic of grilled meats, then this dish is one to love. Familiarity for well-seasoned steak cooked to perfection will welcome this meal.
Stemming from a culture inspired by excellent aromas, there’s so much to love about the picanha. It is a piece of meat especially cut and prepared in a way to portray the Brazilian culture.
At homes, churrascarias, and special occasions, you’re likely to find this stunning piece of meat served in various delicious ways.
Yet, many restaurants in the USA, UK, and across Europe would serve this dish as a unique offering. Although pricier than regular cuts of steak, the picanha is worth the investment for a good fill.
What Is Picanha
You may know this cut of beef as the sirloin cap in the US and the rump cap in the UK. Yet, called the Picanha in Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and other parts of Latin America. The Venezuelans call it “Punta Transeca” and “Tapa de Cuadril” in Argentina and Uruguay.
It comes from the rear of the bovine above the butt, which sits on it a fat cap. Although being the priciest cut of meat, you will find many Brazilians opting for this piece as their best choice.
This premium credit lends itself to its texture, flavor, and generous sit of fat that adds a worth of aroma when cooked.
The fat’s measurement
The fatty part does many good to the aroma of the meat; hence, it should be of the right thickness.
Aim for about one centimeter of thickness else, the cow’s rearing and feeding happened in an unfit manner.
The fat’s color
You should expect a white or light yellow color for the fat cap.
A deeper yellow color implies that the animal was likely old, thus a lump of tougher meat.
The names could be tricky, but there is slight differences.
A regular picanha, as known in Latin America, comes from different breeds of cattle. Such kinds apply to picanha sourced in the USA and UK too.
The meaty part contains very little fat but instead has its fat concentrate located on top of the beef. Thus, it is tougher than wagyu beef and will need perfect doneness to tenderize the meat.
The regular picanha comes from Latin America, Europe, USA, and the UK, that is, requiring a visit to the butchery for a full cut if in the US or UK. It is the priciest of most parts of beef because of its weighty composition. Yet, its price does not beat the wagyu picanha.
Now, hats off for the wagyu picanha!
This cut of beef resembling the regular picanha is a more tender, more expensive, and tastier version.
The meat is less intense with more fat marbling, which gives off a richer fragrance than regular picanha. It is a lump of better quality meat, which melts in your mouth.
It originates from Japan with its name “wagyu,” meaning Wa (origin-Japanese) and Gyu (beef in Japanese).
The cattle go through a more delicate rearing process, which results in its high cost. Special care and feeding is a requisition for these cattle and raised for three years. Other breeds of cattle for regular picanha will take only fifteen months.
Picanha Vs Ribeye
Would you say picanha is the queen of beef and rib-eye the king of beef?
Well, this is an argument battled between different parts of America and Europe.
Both cuts are premium sharing characteristics to their fat content and tenderness. They cook in about the same time.
While a typical picanha cooks excellently with salt only, a rib-eye may accommodate some salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to build that flavor. Meanwhile, this approach is for basic testing. You may season both cuts of meat as you desire.
Having done a taste test with some chefs friends using the same approach, here is my verdict:
I love the big flavors that the picanha carries, which comes from the hefty fat that renders on the meat as it cooks. The texture turns out tender but falls back on the top fat for its aroma. I suggest again eating the slices of beef with little of fat for the most satisfaction.
Meanwhile, the rib-eye would have better fat marbling in the meat, which almost melts into the strands while cooking. It turned out tender like the picanha and served well with some fried rice.
In comparison, I will choose the picanha over the rib-eye. It is more flavorful, tender, and sometimes cheaper.
Sorry, the queen of beef wins the throne!
Picanha Recipe (Marinade)
Sprinkling a generous amount of kosher salt on a piece of picanha and grilling is the best way to cook this piece of meat.
Yet, if you’ll like to intensify the aroma and taste a lot more, below is my winning marinade recipe.
This marinade features Brazil in one seasoning using its sofrito. I combine it with some mustard and lemon pepper to diversify the aroma for a US and UK touch too.
2 ½ lb picanha
Kosher salt to taste
Lemon pepper to taste
2 tbsp Brazillian sofrito
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp dried mustard
Slice the meat into four pieces in the same direction as the fiber.
Season both sides with salt and lemon pepper.
Mix the Brazillian sofrito, parsley, and mustard. Spread the marinade on both sides of the steak and sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Proceed to grill at 350°F to your preferred doneness.
Exclusive recipe for thefoodwonder.com
With that said, are you thrilled to visit Brazil or make your picanha at home?
It is a straightforward dish to make yet setting off memories of deliciousness for many days.
The picanha pairs with a wide range of dishes; rice, burgers, chimichurri, meat platters, and many more.
I enjoyed a fair share of this dish in different barbecues while in some Churrascheria, with flavors and tastes that differed across restaurants.
Your location may not have picanha at all or could be far off from you.
So, my best advice is to find yourself a Churrascheria, Brazilian Restaurant or mine good recipe and perfect the taste of your desire.
Remember the essentials, that is, to choose the right weight, fat thickness, color, and origin. These tips will help you make a tasty picanha that you will love.
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