Picture of a picanha steak, golden brown with grill marks on top

Picanha - The perfect cut meat to reverse sear!

Picanha - The perfect cut meat to reverse sear 

If you're looking to elevate your backyard BBQ game look no further than the Picanha. Rich in flavour, tender texture, versatile, easy to prepare and a great presentation…do you need more reasons to try this delicious cut of beef. Picanha is lower-to-mid range in price in the steak section at the butcher counter but high in flavour and perfect for feeding a crowd!

What is Picanha?

Picanha steak, also known as top sirloin cap, sirloin cap, rump cap, culotte is a deliciously, flavourful cut of beef that has its roots in Brazil. The sirloin cap is found at the very top of the cow's rump, specifically the hindquarters, and is easily recognizable by its distinct fat cap, which adds both flavour and moisture during cooking. The picanha has juiciness and mouth watering flavour.

How should I cook Picanha?

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting a Brazilian steakhouse, the picanha is brought to you on a giant skewer and sliced right at the table. When cooking at home we prefer to cook the whole picanha using the reverse searing method. Reverse searing also works really well when you can’t resist the giant tomahawk at the butcher counter. 

You won’t find this cut at any grocery store,  you will need to visit your favourite neighbourhood Butcher shop to find the picanha. We sourced our Picanha from ForeQuarter Butcher Shop 

What is the best way to cook Picanha?

Reverse searing allows the picanha to slow-cook at a low temperature before finishing with a high-temperature sear. Reverse searing starts with gentle, indirect heat to evenly cook the interior of the meat before applying a final sear for a flavorful crust. 

How the reverse sear typically works:

  • Low-Temperature Cooking:    The whole picanha roast is cooked at a low temperature in an oven, smoker, or grill. This slow-cooking process allows the meat to gradually come up to the desired internal temperature without overcooking the exterior. For medium rare we cook the picanha to 135F.
  • Monitoring Internal Temperature:  This is when a good thermometer comes into play. We like using the Meater Probe Thermometer because it keeps us updated with an app on our phone. Cooking the meat to a few degrees below the desired final temperature helps prevent overcooking during the searing phase.
  • Final Sear:   Once the meat has reached the desired internal temperature, it's removed from the low-temperature cooking environment and transferred to a hot grill, skillet, or broiler to apply the final sear. The high heat quickly sears the exterior of the meat, creating a flavourful crust.

We prefer reverse searing for picanha and larger cuts of meats like the tomahawk, thick rib-eye steak or a thick porkchop because it allows the meat to cook more evenly, the meat retains more moisture, therefore,  better flavour development and better control during the cooking process. 

Our recipe for the reverse sear whole Picanha 

1- whole 2-4 lb picanha
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Neutral Oil (grapeseed, canola) or Olive Oil if you prefer

  1. Pre-heat smoker to 250F.

  2. Score the top fat cap on the picanha, in a cross-hatch pattern, careful not to cut through the meat. Scoring the fat will help to baste the meat  during smoking and will be rendered crisp when you sear to meat (after the smoking)

  3. Smoke meat until the meat reads 135F (for medium rare) internal temperature on an instant read thermometer. (for approximately 1 hour). We love using the Meater meat thermometer.

  4. Remove the picanha from the smoker. Get your grill good and hot,  sear to render the fat (fat side down). Flip over to brown meat & create a crust. 

  5. Allow the picanha to rest for 20-30  minutes before slicing against the grain. 

Do you need a smoker to reverse sear?

If you don’t have a smoker, prepare the picanha with salt, pepper and score the fat cap. Cooking in an oven (pre-heated to 250F), until an internal temperature of 135F. Sear in a hot cast iron skillet or broil until the fat is rendered.


Chef’s Tips:

  • Using a thermometer, in the meat ensures accurate cooking and that you know exactly when to pull the meat off at the right temperature

  • Smoke is attracted to moisture, for a more smoky flavour spritz just before putting on the smoker.

  •  Resting can not be underestimated. Resting your meat allows the juices to redistribute and will keep moisture in the meat when slicing (instead of all over your cutting board)

Prefer Cooking a Picanha steak instead of the whole roast?

The whole cut of picanha is delicious as a whole roast or alternatively, cut picanha into thick steaks, shape them into “c” with the fat cap on the outside and skewer. This is how picanha is served in a Brazilian steak house. You can cook them on high heat or use the reverse searing method.

What should you serve with Picanha?

Best Potato Salad
Chimichurri Sauce
avoury Summer Vegetable Crumble

Want to learn more about BBQ? Try one these classes

Pork belly Burnt Ends
Turkey Workshop
Brisket Workshop
Bacon & Ribs Workshop