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Brazilian Cut of Rump called Picanha


What is a picanha? It is the cap of rump.  It is a triangular cut from the top of the rump, and  has a beautiful layer of fat.  The picanha’s blanket of fat helps the meat flavour and juiciness .

The way to pronounce it is: pee-con-ya, with the emphasis on the con.

To get the full Brazilian experience, use  charcoal –Your second option would make a wood fire.  Just be careful that you use a good tasting wood and let your embers burn down to a glow before you grill.  Wood fires are hot.  The third alternative, and probably the easiest, is a gas grill.  It won’t add any flavours, but it also won’t wreck any.

Score the fatty blanket on the picanha by making criss-crossing cuts into the fatty blanket covering one side of the picanha.  Fat behaves differently than meat when cooked.  It loses more liquid and therefore shrinks more.  By scoring the fat, you can prevent the piece from curling while it grills.  It helps to free the liquid deliciousness in the fat allowing to run into the meat fibres.

Roll the picanha steaks in rock salt and nothing more.  The Brazilian tradition celebrates the flavours of the meat.  Marinating or extra seasoning is reserved for cuts that are less tender and flavourful.  A picanha already has all the flavour and tenderness it needs.  A  little rock salt will seal in its juiciness and enhance its natural goodness.  If you use table salt or kosher salt you have to use a large amount to do the job of sealing in the juices leaving the meat too salty.  Rock salt heats up and reacts like a cooking surface on the meat.  It also doesn’t penetrate nearly as much as finer salts resulting in a lightly salty crust.

Grill the steaks fat-side up for a few minutes until a little juice leaks out of the top of the steaks. Turn the steaks onto their sides to grill for a few more minutes. Finally grill fat-side down moving the steaks away from the hottest part of the fire to avoid over-cooking and to reduce the chance of the fire flaring up from the dripping fat. Grill to your desired doneness. I use the finger poke to know if the meat is done. Try not to puncture the meat when grilling.

Remove the finished meats and tap them with the side of a knife to knock off any extra rocks of salt. Let the meat rest a few minutes before eating.


When talking about the flavours of picanha, the real magic happens on the plate.  With other types of cooking the magic happens perhaps in the fry pan or the oven.  A piece of superior quality meat, from a well-raised animal, grilled to perfection is a beautiful thing.  













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