Picanha (pronounced pee-kahn-yah) is a cut of beef that is popular in Brazil. The cut comes from the top of the rump cap muscle. The closest cut in the United States is a Top Sirloin Cap with the fat cap left on. The Picanha cut is also known as Coulotte.
The Picanha cut packs a lot of flavor and offers a great value. Picanha is less common in the United States, but is growing in popularity with the spread of Brazilian steakhouses.
Picanha is triangular in shape and can range in size from six to fourteen ounces. It’s fairly close in size to a New York steak. The large fat cap brings tremendous flavor and helps keep the steak juicy and flavorful.
What Does Picanha Taste Like
The Picanha cut offers big, beefy flavor. It’s somewhere between brisket, filet mignon, and ribeye. It has the fat cap of brisket, lighter intramuscular marbling of filet mignon, and overall beefy flavor of ribeye.
Because the Picanha comes from the rump area of the animal, it contains a thick fat cap on the top of the steak and less intramuscular fat. This means big, rich, assertive beef flavor which does well with exposure to smoke and an open flame.
The fat cap also helps keep the steak tender and juicy during the cooking process.
How to Cook Picanha
The traditional Brazilian way of cooking the Picanha—often at a churrascaria—is to skewer the meat into a horseshoe shape and cook it over an open fire.
The Brazilians know what they are doing. The Picanha steak is best cooked over an open flame (charcoal or wood), but it can also be cooked with a gas grill, oven, or on the stove
The Picanha cut does best with a simple seasoning blend of coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper.
During the cooking process, the fat cap on the cut melts and crisps as you cook. When you thinly slice the meat against the grain, the meat will melt in your mouth.
Pair the Picanha with an authentic, chimichurri sauce and glass of red wine.
The Picanha cut can be cooked just like any other steak, but here are a few Picanha recipes that make the process extra easy.
Turn any night into a true Brazilian feast by adding some other classic Brazilian dishes.
Brazilian Picanha Steak by Spruce Eats
This is a straightforward recipe that will take you through the cooking process step-by-step. Don't forget to let the steak rest for juiciest results.
This recipe recommends serving picanha with cheese bread, collard greens, and crispy or creamy polenta for a true Brazilian feast.
Grab this Brazilian Picanha Steak recipe from Spruce Eats.
Grilled Picanha by Over the Fire Cooking
Grilling is one of the best ways to cook Picanha. It's the most traditional and will replicate that authentic and real flavor you'll find in Brazil.
This recipe recommends adding Chimichurri as a finishing touch. The acidity will really help the unctuous meat sing on your plate.
Grab the Grilled Picanha recipe from Over the Fire Cooking.
Picanha Recipe - Brazilian Coulotte Steaks
This is a super classic Picanha recipe from a real Brazilian. Brazilian Kitchen Abroad recommends serving the Picanha with Farofa de ovo which is a classic Brazilian dish made with cassava flour.
Snag the Picanha Recipe - Brazilian Coulotte Steaks over at Brazilian Kitchen Abroad.
Where to Buy Picanha
The Picanha cut is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to similar cuts such as ribeye.
It can be more difficult to find in stores in the United States, but there are a variety of options to buy picanha.
1. Local Butcher
Your local butcher is always a great place to start. Many local butchers can make custom cuts upon request. Most quality butchers will recognize the Picanha cut. If they don’t, they will know what you mean if you request the sirloin cap with the fat cap still on.
Order the following: Sirloin Cap with the Fat Cap Still On.
2. Online Meat Delivery
There are a growing number of online meat delivery services that partner with local ranchers and sell meat options direct to the consumer.
3. Meat Delivery Subscription
Looking for regular deliveries of meat including the Picanha cut? Check out these options of monthly meat delivery services. You can sign up for a variety of packages.
4. Frozen Meat Suppliers
You can also buy from online, frozen meat suppliers. Because these companies focus on frozen meat and seafood, they can offer a larger range of products including Picanha.
5. Ranchers that Sell Direct
You can also buy direct from ranchers. These are the people that raise the beef, butcher the cuts, and sell direct to you.
Brazilian Picanha steak is one of the world’s best meats. Just like our beef jerky. While you’re here, why don’t you check out our artisan crafted beef jerky? You won’t be disappointed.