Picanha (pronounced pee-Con-ya) has become one of the most popular dishes at Brazilian BBQ restaurants, called Churrascarias.
The name given to cooking or grilling meat in Brazil is Churrasco and this beef recipe is among the favorites.
The pieces of beef are skewered and slowly cooked over flaming charcoal. As the thick fat begins to melt and drip over the coals the smoke and flames add incredible flavor and seal in the meat.
The cut of beef used comes from the rump of the cow and includes a thick cap of fat that stays on while cooking to keep the meat moist and flavorful but isn't eaten.
This cut of beef is inexpensive and goes by several different names in North America.
When asking your butcher for it try asking for "cap of top sirloin" or "rump cap".
Brazilian restaurants or churrascarias are becoming increasingly popular across the US and Canada but this style of cooking and the various names and cuts are still new to many people, butchers included.
This is a very easy recipe to cook at home but here's some important tips to keep in mind;
Prep Time: 35 minutes (includes 30 minutes resting time)
Cook Time: 15 minutes (or internal temperature 150F)
Direct Heat: 500F
Note: for best results cook the picanha over charcoal.
What you'll need:
Lay the meat on a cutting board fat side up.
With a very sharp knife cut the meat in 1 1/2" to 2" slices across the grain.
Insert the skewer or rod into the fat side of the picanha, through the meat and back out the fat side.
Repeat this for each sliced piece.
Sprinkle each piece with rock or sea salt and let sit for 1 hour.
Light the charcoal and let it become fully engaged and start developing a light ash coating while the meat rests.
When the coals are ready lay the skewer of meat across the BBQ and keep the lid slightly open.
Every few minutes rotate the skewer slightly so all sides of the meat cook evenly.
Notice that as the fat melts into the coals delicious smoke and flames add flavor to the meat.
When the exterior of the meat is cooked and has a nice shiny charred appearance it's time to start slicing off thin slivers of meat for your guests.
This is good served with this Chimichurri sauce recipe on the side.
Notice how you'll be slicing with the grain and the meat remains tender and juicy.
If there is meat remaining on the skewer place it back over the BBQ to char up the newly exposed exterior.