It seems that the Brazilians are taking over everything in South Florida, including my blog! It’s not a bad thing though by any means, because Brazilians always bring great meat with them whenever they come over! If you haven’t been to a Brazilian barbecue, you are missing out. Brazil easily has one of the best grilling traditions in Latin America (and that’s saying something). One of their prized cuts is the picanha (aka top sirloin, aka coulotte, aka cap steak), a cut we don’t really eat much here in America.
There is not much you need to do to this great cut. It’s incredibly forgiving, because of the beautiful cap of fat on it, that will keep the meat juicy even if you cook it beyond medium. I simply score it and season aggressively with salt and pepper. In this preparation I also added slices of garlic, but that’s entirely optional. Since the cut is so large (2.5 to about 6 pounds), it’s best to cook this massive steak through in direct heat. Also as the fat cap tends to cause flare ups, in direct cooking is preferred if you don’t want to have your picanha burnt to a crisp.
It should be noted that Brazilians like to grill the whole picanha like a massive steak and then while the steak is on the grill they slice the rare steak in thick slices and then grill each slice individually. Every time I see this done at a barbecue I can’t take it. You’ve got to let the meat rest! I mean it still tastes pretty good, but I just can’t get over it. I roast the picanha whole on the grill using the indirect heat method and allow it ample time to rest. I do finish with the picanha by searing the fat side down on the hot side of the grill, just to crisp up some of the exterior fat (watch carefully because it will flare). I think my version is infinitely better.
Brazilians usually serve their picanha with yucca flour and this pico de gallo style mixture. I serve mine like I would any other steak. Next time you are at your butcher ask for this cut, it’s underrated (in America).