The Picanha is a bit of a secret cut, known to aficionados and surprisingly, unknown to many butchers. You may know it by its other names such as rump cap, rump cover, and sirloin cap. Whatever you call it, it is delicious. Keep reading to find out how to select, prep and cook your new favourite cut, the Picanha!
What Is The Picanha Cut?
It is a highly prized cut in Brazil, where the name comes from and a nice fat cover is always desirable. A picanha was a pole used for herding cattle in Spain and Portugal and the name was given to the area on the body where the cattle would be prodded to move them along. Immigrant farmers that came to Brazil brought the name with them.
How To Butcher The Picanha
The rump cap is one of the four main muscles in the rump and when it is sliced in the traditional manner, it is sliced along the grain. If you take the cap off the rump, turn it 90 degrees and cut across the grain, you get a much more tender steak.
How To Cook Picanha (Whole)
Be wary, overcooking this cut makes it tough, so medium rare is as far as you should take it to appreciate its finer qualities. It has a great robust beef flavour, the fat is delicious, and adds juiciness to the steak. Cook it with all the fat on, discard the fat afterwards if you like, but leave it on for cooking.
You can cook the whole picanha on the grill and slice it into steaks afterwards and this allows you to have it fairly rare. You can tie it up and roast it whole. Either way, it is delicious. Whichever method you choose to cook with, take off the silverskin from the meat side. This is fairly tough and when the heat makes it tighten up, changing the shape of the cut. Roasting a Picanha is simplicity itself. Preheat the oven to 180C (400F) and while the oven is heating up put a cast iron frying pan on the hob at high heat. Score the fat cap in a diamond pattern but don’t cut into the meat!
Put the Picanha, fat side down into the hot pan, you don’t need any oil, it has all the fat it needs, and sear it all over for about 7 minutes.
When the oven reaches the required temperature, place the Picanha on the cast iron pan in the oven and cook for 45 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 50C 120F for rare.
- Blue (bleu) 80 to 100 degrees F, 26 to 38 degrees C
- Rare 120 to 125 degrees F, 49 to 51 degrees C
- Medium Rare 130 to 135 degrees F, 55 to 57 degrees C
- Medium 140 to 145 degrees F, 60 to 63 degrees C
- Medium Well 150 to 155 degrees F, 65 to 69 degrees C
- Well Done 160 degrees F and above, 71 degrees C
As you can see the Picanha is a very versatile cut that has many applications from preparing as a whole roast, cutting into steaks or mincing to use in burgers, the uses for this relatively inexpensive cut are endless!
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