If you have ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse, then I’m sure you have had the pleasure of enjoying fresh cooked and sliced picanha. (Pronounced pee-KHA-nyah) It is a cut of beef that is seasoned with salt, cooked on a rotisserie known as a speto or rodizio and sliced table-side right onto your plate. It is nothing less than spectacular and has grown in popularity over the last few years because of it. But let us not get ahead of ourselves and let’s start at the basics.
Picanha can go by many different names here in the good old U.S. of A. Picanha, Top Sirloin Cap, Rump Cover, Rump Cap and Culotte are all names that your local butcher may use for it. It is a cut from the rear section of the cow and is known for its tenderness and intense marbling. It traditionally comes with a fat cap on it that can be up to four inches thick. DO NOT remove this before cooking! Remember the old saying, Fat equals flavor!
We worked with Josh's Premium Meats in Miami to source this Australian Wagyu picanha. It has some of the deepest and richest marbling of any piece that we have ever seen. We knew we had to do this right, so we cooked it in as traditional of a way as is possible for us. On a rotisserie, over live fire and prepared with just coarse salt.
- The first thing we did was to fill our Arteflame Grill with FOGO Black Bag Premium Charcoal and light it.
- We then created a channel down the middle of the hot coals, underneath where the rotisserie will be, so the dripping fat is not running down directly on to the hot coals. This helps prevent flare ups as well as unwanted smoke which can give a bit of a bitter flavor.
- The next step was to slice and skewer the meat. For this application, you want to cut it across the grain, using 3 fingers as a guide for the width. This should usually give you about 3 sections to put on the skewer.
- To skewer the sections, form each one into a “U” shape and pass your skewer or spit through it passing through the fat cap on either end.
- Once all your meat is on it, coat it generously with coarse kosher salt. You will want to give a pretty heavy coating as the salt will form a crust and help keep some of the juices inside the meat, right where you want it!
- Place the skewer into your rotisserie and let that baby spin! You will see after a little while that it is starting to turn color and is dripping away. That is exactly what you want to see, let it cook until you have a nice coloring on the outside.
- You can then remove the skewer (careful, it is extremely hot) and grab your knife. A good slicing knife is helpful here, but you can use a chef’s knife or any other sharp blade you may have. Place the pointy end down on your cutting board and hold the other end up high. Tap the outside of the picanha to remove some of the salt crust. Do not skip this step! Slice the meat down the sides so that it just falls away from the skewer.
- Once you have a slice or two off each side, re-apply some salt to the outside of the meat and return it to the grill.
- Repeat the same process until there is no more meat left to slice.
If your guests are kind, they will have saved a few slices for you, if they are kind, but don’t hold your breath. Once they take the first bite, they will want to eat all of it. My recommendation is to take the first slice for yourself, you know….to make sure it is ok! (wink wink)
If you do not have a rotisserie, do not worry. You can do this directly on your grates just as well. You can season and cook the whole picanha or do the same and cut it into sections. It works great using the reverse sear method or just cooking hot and fast. Either way, we know that this will be one special treat that your guests will not soon forget.