If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse (aka- churrascaria or rodizio-style), chances are you’ve had picanha. The servers that come by your table will bring this beef on the skewer that is shaped like a “C” and slice it off the front and onto your plate. Picanha is my favorite meat at the restaurant! And with your own rotisserie attachment for your grill (or a long metal skewer that you are willing to manually rotate over an open flame), as well as a few simple ingredients, I will show you how to make this Brazilian garlic delicacy in your own backyard!
WHAT TYPE OF MEAT IS PICANHA?
If you live in North America and ask your butcher for meat to make picanha, they may not know what you are talking about. To help you get this cut, tell him/her you want a top sirloin cap, coulotte, or rump cap. This cut of beef will be roughly four pounds. Butchers like to cut this up and sell sirloin steaks, so you may need to convince your butcher to either get a sirloin cap from the back or special order you one for later.
PREPARING THE GARLIC PICANHA
Once you have this sirloin cap, take the fat cap on top and score the fat by slicing criss-cross cuts into it. Do you best to not cut into the meat. Take some kosher salt and sprinkle all over the fat cap and meat-exposed sides.
Once that is done, slice the meat into thirds, from the widest side down to the smallest (as seen in the picture above). Apply some more kosher salt to the freshly sliced sides that didn’t get covered earlier. Now apply some black pepper and then some minced garlic, both over all sides of the pieces of meat.
TIME FOR THE SPIN CYCLE
The traditional way to cook picanha is to form the meat into a c-shape form and pierce it onto a big, metal skewer. A rotisserie attachment for your grill is highly recommended, although you could use a large metal skewer to put over the hot coals and rotate ever so often. But seriously, look into getting a rotisserie. The folks at Kamado Joe make a Joetisserie attachement that fits most 18″ ceramic grills.
Cooking it this way means the meat is basting in its own juices, enhancing the flavor even more. Cook it this way for 20-25 minutes until the meat reaches the desired temp you are looking for. I like to cook my Brazilian garlic picanha to medium rare. Using a digital thermometer, like the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4, is a fast and accurate way to gauge meat temps.
REST, SLICE, SERVE
Once that is done, put on some heat resistant gloves and place onto a cutting board to rest for a little bit before slicing. I do this to help the meat build up juices and maximize the flavor in every bite. Leave the meat on the skewer for the Brazilian steakhouse effect. Slice the meat by cutting the tops of the cuts of picanha parallel with the skewer. I prefer to cut in thinner slices. After slicing a couple of times, feel free to put the skewer back over the coals for another spin on the rotisserie to cook the fresh surfaces and develop some more crust for future slices.
- 1 top sirloin cap (about four pounds)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- Preheat grill. Set up rotisserie attachment.
- Score the fat on top of the sirloin cap by cutting into the fat (but not the meat) in a criss-cross pattern, with cuts being an inch apart. Sprinkle kosher salt on top of the scores fat.
- Sliced meat into thirds, applying rest of kosher salt, black pepper, and minced garlic on all sides. Skewer meat by forming cuts into a c-shape form and poking skewer through as seen on the recipe card photo.
- Cook meat on rotisserie, make sure it is spinning. Cool this way for 20-25 minutes until internal meat temp reaches 130-135F. Remove, rest for 10 minutes and slice off tops of meat, parallel with the skewer.
- after slicing, put remaining picanha (still on skewer) back on grill to cook if you want to get more crust
- Picanha also goes by top sirloin cap, rump cap, or coulotte. Your butcher should know one of those terms.
Serving Size:1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120 Total Fat: 6g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 40mg Sodium: 430mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 16g