What Is Picanha? All About The Famous Brazilian Meat

There are a lot of things that I love about living in Brazil, but Picanha is probably at the top of the list. If you never tried this amazing cut of meat, you’re missing an explosion of flavors. But even being very popular around here, this meat it’s not so famous worldwide. So, What Is Picanha?

Picanha is one of the most delicious cuts of meat. Very popular in Brazil, this cut is taken from the back of the cattle, from the top of the rump. It can be hard to find in the US, where this cut is known as Rump Cap, Top Sirloin Cap, or even Rump Cover. The Picanha can be grilled whole or in steaks.

Picanha is the most appreciated cut of meat in Brazil and little by little other countries are starting to discover this “hidden gem”. In the United States, especially in cities with large Brazilian communities, Picanha is already quite popular. To learn exactly which part of the cattle this cut is taken from, read on.

What Is Picanha Steak?

Ribeye is often called the king of the meats, but when you eat a well-prepared Picanha there’s a big chance that you’ll change your mind. Also called Picanha Steak, this cut of meat delivers an explosion of flavors.

Picanha Steak is a cut of meat removed from the back of the cattle known in the US as Rump Cap or Top Sirloin Cap. When removed correctly, this cut has a beautiful layer of fat, essential for the flavor. The combination of fat, salt, charcoal, and fresh meat is great for a tasty and juicy barbecue.

There are different ways to make and eat Picanha, but the most traditional in Brazil is grilling it over the fire using only salt for seasoning. There are more “secrets” about how to make a good Picanha, so check them all in the infographic below.

What Is Picanha?

The Fat Is Essential

Some people like to remove the fat when eating, but in Brazil, most people eat the meat with the cap of fat. Still, removing the fat after the meat is already grilled is not a fatal mistake, so go with your preferences. On the other hand, don’t even think of making the mistake of removing the fat cover from the Picanha before roasting it. That would destroy the experience! The fat is essential for the flavor and juiciness of this cut of meat.

The doneness of the meat that you like is your personal preference and that’s fine, but in the case of Picanha, the ideal is to eat the meat at maximum medium doneness for maximum flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. When grilled beyond this point, the Picanha will lose some of the flavors and the cut can also be dry.

3 Popular Ways To Make Picanha

The Brazilian barbecue techniques are very simple and often involve using only the meat, salt and grilling it over the fire, using charcoal or wood. I’ll list here the 3 most popular ways to make Picanha in Brazil, but feel free to create your own versions using this amazing cut.

  • Sliced Picanha On A Skewer
What Is Picanha?

Picanha on a skewer is usually found in Brazilian steakhouses. This preparation technique consists of skewering the Picanha cuts and roasting them with salt. When the meat is ready, instead of serving the steaks, the waiters take small and thin slices and serve them directly at the table. It’s my personal favorite!

  • Sliced Picanha On The Grill
What Is Picanha? Sliced Picanha On The Grill

Sliced Picanha on the grill is also an excellent preparation option and is relatively simple. In this case, the steaks are cut into 2 fingers thick and grilled. A “secret” that many people use in this preparation is to seal the entire piece of meat, two sides, before slicing. It keeps more of the juices inside the meat even after cutting the piece into steaks.

  • Whole Piece On The Grill

The last common way to prepare Picanha in Brazil is to roast the entire piece of meat. As a general rule, place the meat on the grill with the fat down first, and roast the other side after the fat is well done.

Traditional Seasoning in Brazil

Generally speaking, Picanha in Brazil follows the local tradition of seasoning barbecue, using salt only. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this means no flavor: with a light seasoning, the meat’s flavor stands out and is really good. Still, some like to season Picanha in other ways. Two of the most common ways to prepare here are Picanha in garlic and Picanha in mustard. Another very common recipe in Latin America is the barbecue with Chimichurri, and with Picanha this accompaniment is also delicious.

No wonder Picanha is the most popular cut of meat in Brazil. Even so, it’s still not so easy to find in other countries. In the United States, it’s common to find Picanha in supermarkets with Brazilian products and regions where there are large Brazilian communities. In traditional markets, Picanha can be found as Rump Cap, Top Sirloin Cap, or even Rump Cover. But one thing I guarantee: anyone who tastes Picanha well prepared at least once will fall in love at the first bite.

Picanha FAQ

What Cut Of Beef Is Picanha?

Picanha is a cut of beef taken from the back of the cattle, from the top of the rump. For this reason, in the United States, this cut can be found named Rump Cover, Rump Cap, or even Top Sirloin Cap. However, Picanha is not so popular outside of Brazil.

What Makes Picanha So Good?

Picanha is a very tasty cut due to the softness and the layer of fat covering the meat, which is an explosion of flavor when roasted. The simple seasoning with just salt is enough for a tasty barbecue, but Chimichurri, Garlic, and Mustard are also good options to season the meat.

What Does Picanha Tastes Like?

As a general rule, Picanha has the complex taste of a good cut of beef with a beautiful layer of fat, which when grilled melts and spreads over the meat improving the flavors. In addition, the smoky taste of barbecue made with charcoal or wood and seasoned with salt greatly enhances the flavor.

What Is Picanha Steak In English?

In English, Picanha is known as Rump Cover, Rump Cap, Top Sirloin Cap, or even Culotte. Despite not being so popular outside of Brazil, Picanha can be found by one of these names in the United States. In cities with Brazilian communities is easier to find Picanha.

What Do Brazilians Eat With Picanha?

As a general rule, the best sides dishes that Brazilians with Picanha are Farofa, Rice, and mayonnaise-based Potato Salad, very famous in Brazil. The favorite drinks for Brazilians to consume with Picanha are Guaraná (Brazilian soda), Caipirinha (famous Brazilian drink), and cold Beer.

Why Is Picanha Not Popular?

Picanha is a very popular cut in Brazil, Argentina, and Portugal, but it’s not famous worldwide. In the United States, the part of the cattle where Picanha is located is known as the “Rump”, and butchers usually divide it into other cuts, like the round and the loin.

Is Picanha The Best Steak?

Picanha is considered the best steak in Brazil. Unfortunately, the price per kilo of Picanha in the country is quite high. Ribeye is considered the best steak in other countries, but those who eat both usually confirm that Picanha is as good as or even better than Ribeye.

Is Picanha Better Than Ribeye?

As a general rule, Ribeye is better than Picanha. Ribeye is considered the king of meat and in this sense, whoever tastes Picanha says it’s the queen. Both steaks are extremely tender and tasty because of the fat. When both cuts are good, what will make a difference is the seasoning and the cooking.

Is Sirloin Cap The Same As Picanha?

As a general rule, Top Sirloin Cap is the same as Picanha, but there is one detail that needs to be noticed: one of the things that makes Picanha a real Picanha is the large layer cap of fat over the meat. In some places, Top Sirloin Cap is sold without the fat cap and this is not a real Picanha.

Are Picanha Steaks Tender?

Picanha steaks are very tender, especially when they are grilled for 5 minutes max at each side (considering steaks 2-thinger thick). To make a Picanha steak even more tender, a secret is to sear the whole piece of meat even before slicing it. This technique helps keep more juices inside the steaks.

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What’s up! I’m André, a Brazilian born and bred living in the South of Brazil in a little city called Guarapuava. I’m passionate about traveling and knowing different cultures and that’s why I love to share useful information about the Food, Travel, Facts, and Culture of my beloved country, Brazil.

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