Picanha at Home
In Brazil, the rump cap or ‘Picanha’ is the most sought after cut of beef; and we’re not the slightest bit surprised as this is a truly delicious and special cut. So don’t be scared and ask your butcher to get one for you. But before you buy, take a closer look at the history and cooking methods for this little known Brazilian gem.
The Origin of the Name
In an area south of Brazil the branding iron used to mark the cattles is called a ‘picanha’. Over time, the body part of the animal that gets branded adopts the name of the instrument that does the branding.
But it doesn’t matter where the name comes from, the main thing is that you enjoy every single piece! Here are a few tips for doing just that.
When buying picanha, here at Fazenda we suggest that it should weigh less than 1.3kg. Anything more than that and it is most likely you will be paying for part of the Silverside (a tougher part of the animal attached to the Picanha cut). The fat layer should be about 1.5cm thick – any less and this means the cattle was raised and fed in an unfit manner. The colour of the fat should be white and firm to touch.
As for the actual cooking part, picanha is often cooked over high heat such as a BBQ, so if you’re a fan of black pepper and don’t want it to burn up in the process, add it afterwards. We highly recommend that you heavily salt the meat before cooking. It’s important to use rock salt instead of sea salt because the latter will most likely ruin your picanha.
I’ve put together a very simple recipe based on oven roasting Picanha which will serve around 4 guests:
PICANHA ASSADA NO FORNO (Oven Roasted Picanha)
The ideal way of cooking picanha is over an open-ﬂame grill with natural wood charcoal – not just because of the difference in taste but also because of the whole experience of outdoor cooking! This is a huge part of South American culture. However, oven-roasted picanha is an excellent alternative for those who prefer to cook indoors with much less labour involved. This is an easy way to satisfy your cravings for picanha until you’re ready and ambitious enough to build your own grill! Or you can always just visit us and satisfy them with a bottle of one of our finest Malbecs to accompany it.
- Whole Picanha
- 6 tablespoons of rock salt
METHOD (Preparing the meat)
- Take the meat out of the fridge at least one hour before cooking it and preheat the oven to 120 degrees celsius
- Pat the meat dry with a paper towel
- Place the picanha fat side up on a cutting board and pierce the meat generously with a knife. This will allow the fat to render into the meat, adding more flavour.
- Turn the picanha over and remove any silver skin from the bottom of the meat.
- Cut the picanha into three for faster cooking and season generously with rock salt on all sides of the beef.
Method – Cooking the meat
- Place the meat fat side up in a roasting pan or cast-iron skillet that is just slightly larger than the meat.
- Roast in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches about 45 degrees celsius. By then the meat will look light brown.
- Remove the picanha from the oven and cover loosely with aluminium foil to keep warm.
- Turn up the oven to the grill setting and wait until the temperature reaches about 240 degrees celsius.
- Adjust the oven rack so that the meat sits 8 to 10 inches away from the top of the oven.
- Place the meat back in the oven and broil for 8 to 10 minutes, checking the meat closely and often. The fat should turn a dark golden colour, be careful not to burn it.
- Take the meat out of the oven and allow the meat to rest for 10 -15 minutes. The resting period makes the meat more tender, and it stabilises the natural juices so that less will run when you carve the meat. After it rests, transfer the meat to a cutting board, and slice as you prefer.
Fazenda’s Executive Chef