What is the Picanha cut?

written by

Haylee Goulet

posted on

May 25, 2024

What is the Picanha?

The Queen of steaks. This mouth watering steak cut is juicy and tender smoked, grilled or go the traditional Brazilian style and cook it over the coals with skewers.

A distinctive triangle whole cut includes the fat cap. Not to be confused with the Tri-tip steak cut. When cutting the whole cut into steaks, cut the with the grain. Thus when eating it is cut against the grain. Want to try this cut? Special order it today. 

Let’s get into it!

Picanha (pronounced pee-lawn-yuh) is popular cut in Brazil.  This cut comes from the upper rear of the cow. The rump area above the butt, where there is a thick layer of fat. This is the area of the round. In the U.S.A. This cut is called the Sirloin Cap,  Rump cap, or Coulomb Steak. The word “cap” is used in a cut of beef, it means the fat layer has not been removed. 

Picanha steaks are insanely tender due to the outer fat cap. It is more tender than the King of steaks, the Ribeye. That said, when cooked correctly, they come out juicy and lean. The fat cap also creates a unique, butter-like mouthfeel. 

Picanha can be prepared on the grill in the oven,  in the smoker, in a frying pan or  sous vide with a variety of spices and accompaniments.

History of the picanha cut. 

“It turns out that until the 1960s no one knew of the existence of this cut and it was not even on the menu of Brazilian steakhouses and restaurants. But everything changed one night in that decade at a restaurant in Sao Paulo when a millionaire ordered an Argentinean rump steak.

The story goes that the order never made it to the table. Instead he was offered a triangular cut in the shape of a bag that had a thick layer of white fat, which gave the strange cut an exquisite flavor. The man was fascinated by the taste and called for the restaurant’s grill man The griller was from Tucumán (north of Argentina), who explained that when he ran out of rump steak, he was forced to serve a cut from his homeland called picaña, the part of the hindquarter where the animal was beaten with an iron stick to be herded.

And the rest is history. Although it was not very common until recently, in the last few years many restaurants have included it in their offerings and some butcher’s shops as well, especially in Spain. The price of picanha is very affordable and they did not want to be left behind in this unique experience. 

So here’s for that Argentinean griller who lived in Brazil and ran out of rump steak.” eclipsediluna.com

In Brazil, the most prized cut of meat tends to be the picanha. There the traditional preparation is to skewer the meat and cook it over a charcoal grill, with a minimal seasoning consisting of coarse sea salt. The fat is retained until the steak has been cooked.

Is it healthy for you? 

You will be please to know that this cut offers more than mouth watering flavor.

This cut is high-quality protein and contains essential vitamins and heart-healthy fats. Along with healthy fats its rich in amino acids. 

Now that we have your attention….

Special order this cut by calling Calvin and ask for this mouth watering cut. 

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Buying  A Sides Of Beef Working for Calvin, a farmer, and working at a custom butcher shop, a common question is often asked: "What side of beef am I getting?" For me, this question gets asked because they have purchased 1/4 or smaller. The customer often wants to ensure they get the back half of the beef. They want some excellent homegrown steaks. Although, if you are a griller, you may want the front half. Why is this question still asked? Sometimes, the farmer or butcher will offer the front or the back half when ordering a 1/2 of beef. This makes the question valid. "What side of beef am I getting?" To cut to the chase, when ordering from Calvin, you get beef from the front or forequarter and the back half or hindquarter. Let's get into it. A beef carcass has two matched sides containing the forequarter and the hindquarter. A side of beef is half a carcass, split down the back. Sometimes, beef is sold as a forequarter or hindquarter cut. This means that a side of beef has been cut into two sections, separated between the 12th and 13th ribs. If you are looking for this type of cut, call Calvin. This would be a special order with our butcher. The forequarter contains the following primal sections: chuck, rib, brisket, foreshank, and plate. The hindquarters contain the following primal sections: loin, sirloin, round, flank, and the hind shank. From these primal sections, our desired cuts are made. From the primal cuts, they are further processed into more manageable parts called subprimal. Subprimals are smaller and more cost-effective to handle. Subprimal cuts can also be sold as block or tray-ready. Open the bag, cut it to your liking, and tray it. When ordering from Calvin, you get precisely what you want. You get beef cuts from the forequarter and the hindquarter. Never missing out. Buying directly from a farmer ensures the beef you're consuming was raised in a way that aligns with your values, the marbling you desire, and keeping a small family farm alive. Don't forget the family-owned butcher shop.  The total cost of a side of beef can vary greatly depending on where you live, the farmer's practices, and the butchering options you choose. With bulk beef, you pay one price for every pound, whether it's made into ground beef or ribeye's, so while your price may be comparable on ground beef, it's outstanding on steaks and other whole cuts. It's convenient! Having a freezer full of beef that is easily accessible for all your meals. You won't need to compare prices or seek out weekly sales at the grocery store. One order and you are done! My suggestion. Think about order a whole, half or quarter of beef. You will love the variety of cuts you get from both sides.