If you enjoy fatty and flavorful cuts of beef, you will love picanha steak - the cut that is super popular in Brazil, and with good reason.
This steak has a marvelous fat cap and a rich, beefy flavor. It's just as easy to make as any other steak - a quick sear on both sides, and it's done!
If you've ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse, you know that picanha steak is a huge favorite in Brazil. It's incredibly flavorful, and although you won't find it at your local U.S. supermarket, you can buy it at your butcher's or order it online.
It's one of my favorite cuts thanks to its tenderness, excellent flavor, and thick fat cap. Thankfully, unlike other steaks, such as the New York strip, butchers leave this glorious fat cap alone and don't over-trim it.
You'll need just four ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Picanha steaks: These are also known as top sirloin cap steaks:
To season: Just salt and pepper. I prefer Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt.
To finish the steaks: Butter. I like to use Kerrygold salted butter.
This simple recipe highlights the wonderfully beefy flavor of the steak, so I wouldn't play too much with variations.
You could season the steaks a bit more - try a pinch of garlic powder or smoked paprika. I tried both together and liked the combination.
You can also sprinkle the finished steaks with minced parsley. But beyond these minimal variations, I recommend sticking with salt, pepper, and butter.
Picanha Steak Instructions
Here's an overview of the steps for making this recipe. The detailed instructions are listed in the recipe card below.
Your first step is to season the steaks generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Season the fatty edges, too.
Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the steaks and cook them without moving for 3-4 minutes, until the bottom has developed a brown crust.
Using tongs, flip the steaks and cook them until browned on that side, too, about three more minutes. Cook the fatty edges for about one minute.
Remove the steaks to a plate and top them with butter. Let them rest for five minutes before serving.
This cut comes from the top of the rump, also known as the sirloin cap or rump cap:
Unfortunately, you won't find this cut in the United States in your supermarket or even at Whole Foods Market. You can find it at the butcher's, though, or you could order it online at Wild Fork Foods.
Yes. You can buy the whole cut and cut it into individual steaks about 1 inch thick using a sharp knife.
Make sure to cut WITH the grain, not against it. So, you should cut alongside the meat fibers, leaving them intact.
These steaks are rich and flavorful, so I like to serve them with fresh and simple sides. I usually opt for a salad, which I can make beforehand, and then focus on cooking the steaks. Here are a few of my favorites:
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- Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Season both sides and the edges with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke.
- Add the steaks and cook them without moving until the bottom has developed a brown crust, for 3-4 minutes.
- Using tongs, flip the steaks and cook them until browned on that side, too, about 3 more minutes.
- Cook the fat edges for about one minute.
- Remove the steaks to a plate and top them with butter. Let them rest for five minutes before serving them.
- I typically cook steaks medium-rare (note that the USDA recommends medium doneness). But in this case, since the steaks have a thick fat cap, which I want well-browned, I prefer cooking them to medium doneness.
- Make sure to salt the fatty edges and brown them, too, after you're done browning both sides of the steaks.
- Steaks are best eaten freshly cooked. If you have leftovers, try slicing them thinly and serving them cold. If you'd like to reheat the leftovers, do so gently, in the microwave, covered.