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    Picanha Steak Recipe

    Published December 21, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This Picanha steak recipe is reverse seared on the smoker and pan-roasted with herbs, garlic, and butter for an unbelievably flavorful, tender, just cut of beef. My family and friends rave over this recipe, and it’s become a frequent request.

    Meat is very expensive, so when I buy it and cook it, I want to ensure it’s spot-on and tasty beyond all belief. If you’re looking for foolproof beef recipes, try my Swiss Steak or Steak Sandwich.



     

    Picanha

    Picanha is a cut of beef, also known as the sirloin or rump cap, or Coulotte steak, that comes from the area above the butt behind the sirloin. It is decent intermuscular fat with a thick ¼” up to 1” fat cap on the top. This cut of beef was popularized in Brazil and spread worldwide, especially in steak houses.

    It was originally grilled but has since been adopted to many cooking methods such as searing or even sous vide. You can get creative and cook it using procedures that suit your liking. Picanha currently ranges from $5 to $15 per pound and usually weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. This affordable cut is highly underrated and a great alternative to prime rib.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    picanha steak ingredients
    • Picanha – You will need a Picanha roast. This is also called the sirloin cap, rump cap, or Coulotte steak. Any butcher can cut this for you. In addition, it may be hard to come by in a normal grocery store.
    • Onions – I used shallots and whole garlic cloves when pan-roasting the steak for the final sear. Substitute the shallots with a ¼ red, white, yellow, or sweet onion.
    • Herbs – Fresh thyme is used in the pan-roasting of the steak, and fresh chives are used as a garnish. There aren’t really any substitutes for this.
    • Fat – I prefer olive or avocado oil when pan-searing the steak. You will also need unsalted butter for basting the steak.
    • Seasoning – All you’ll need is coarse salt and black pepper for this Picanha.

    How to Make a Picanha Steak

    Pat dry and slice the fat cap of the steak in a checkerboard-like manner.

    score the steak

    Place the roast on a rack over a sheet tray and season it on all sides with coarse salt.

    seasoning a steak

    Put it in the refrigerator uncovered for 12 to 48 hours.

    dry brined steak

    The next day, season it with black pepper.

    adding pepper to a picanha

    Reverse-sear the steak by placing it in a preheated smoker at 200° and cooking until it reaches 115° to 120° internally.

    reverse searing a steak on a smoker

    You can put the pre-seasoned steak on a rack over a sheet tray in the oven at 200° and cook it until it reaches 115° to 120° internally.

    adding a picanha to the oven

    Remove the steak and let it rest on a rack for 30 minutes.

    resting a roast

    Cook it on a hot grill, fat cap side down first, for 6-8 minutes per side or until it reaches 125° to 130° internally for medium-rare. Rest it for 30 minutes on a rack before slicing and serving.

    grilling a picanha

    Keep it on the rack over a sheet tray and place it in the oven, broiling it on high heat for 6 minutes per side. Rest it for 30 minutes on a rack before slicing and serving.

    broiled picanha

    Add oil to a cast iron skillet and heat it over high heat until it smokes lightly.

    adding oil to a pan

    Place the Picanha fat cap side down, immediately turn the heat to medium, and cook it untouched for 4 minutes.

    cooking a steak in a pan

    Turn the heat down to low-medium and move the steak around in a circular motion for 2 minutes.

    moving a picanha around in a pan

    Flip the steak over and add the garlic, shallots, thyme, and butter to the pan with the steak.

    adding butter to a pan with steak

    Baste the steak for 5 to 6 minutes or until it reaches 125° to 130° internally.

    basting a picanha

    Rest it for 30 minutes on a rack.

    adding butter to a picanha

    Slice the steak against the grain and serve.

    sliced picanha steak

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten as soon as it rests. 

    How to Store: Store it on a plate in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 45 days and covered in plastic. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day or until thawed.

    How to Reheat: While I never recommend reheating a hunk of beef, I realize you may be unable to eat it all at once. Slice the Picanha into desired portions and add it to a large sauté or roasting pan with about 1 cup of beef stock. Cover it in foil and cook in the oven at 400° for 8 to 12 minutes. Reheating your steak will 100% cause it to increase in internal temperature, most likely past medium and into medium-well.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • This is pronounced as Pee-Cahn-Ya.
    • These times and temperatures above will render a medium-rare internal temperature.
    • I highly recommend investing in an excellent real-time read thermometer.
    • When resting the Picanha steak, you can cover it with foil once it’s done cooking, but it isn’t necessary.
    • When the meat rests after cooking, it will rise another 2-4°.
    • It’s important to have cold meat when placing it on the smoker to absorb as much smoke as possible.
    • The fat cap is the outer fat on top of the roast that helps provide flavor.
    • You can also slice the Picanha into portions and cook them like a normal steak.
    • The slices in the steak help the salt penetrate the meat and prevent it from curling up when it cooks.

    More Steak Recipes

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    Video

    Picanha Steak Recipe

    5 from 11 votes
    This Picanha steak recipe is reverse seared on the smoker and pan-roasted with herbs, garlic, and butter for an unbelievable flavor.
    Servings: 6
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 2 hours
    Resting Time: 1 hour

    Ingredients 

    • 1 2 ½ to 3 pound Picanha steak
    • 2 peeled shallots
    • 6-8 garlic cloves
    • ½ stick unsalted butter, thickly sliced
    • 8-10 fresh thyme sprigs
    • coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
    • optional sliced fresh chives for garnish

    Instructions

    • Slice the fat cap of the Picanha steak in a checkerboard-like manner, with each square being roughly ½”x 1/2” inch.
    • Place the roast on a rack over a sheet tray and generously season it on all sides with coarse salt. This comes out to be roughly 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon.
    • Put it in the refrigerator uncovered for 12 to 48 hours. I did 24 hours.
    • The next day, season it on all sides with cracked black pepper.
    • Reverse-sear the steak by placing the Picanha in a preheated smoker to 200° and cook it until it reaches 115° to 120° internally.
    • Remove the steak and let it rest on a rack for 30 minutes. This will allow the myoglobin to run back through the steak, ensuring it is pink from end to end.
    • Add the olive oil to a 12” cast iron or carbon steel pan and heat over high heat until the oil smokes lightly.
    • Place the Picanha fat cap side down, immediately turn the heat down to medium and cook it untouched for exactly 4 minutes.
    • Next, using tongs, move the steak around in a circular motion for 1 minute. Doing this will help completely brown the top of the steak.
    • Flip the steak over, turn the heat down to low-medium, and cook it for 1 minute.
    • Add the garlic, shallots, thyme, and butter to the pan with the steak.
    • Baste the steak for 4 to 6 minutes or until it reaches 125° to 130° internally for medium-rare.
    • Rest it for 30 minutes on a rack. You can pour on the herbs, garlic, and shallots over top or add on a few thick slices of Maître D’ Butter.
    • Slice the steak against the grain and serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: This recipe is meant to be eaten as soon as it rests. 
    How to Store: Store it covered on a plate in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 45 days and covered in plastic. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day or until thawed.
    How to Reheat: While I never recommend reheating a hunk of beef, I realize you may be unable to eat it all at once. Slice the Picanha into desired portions and add it to a large sauté or roasting pan with about 1 cup of beef stock. Cover it in foil and cook in the oven at 400° for 8 to 12 minutes. Reheating your steak will 100% cause it to increase in internal temperature, most likely past medium and into medium-well.
    This is pronounced as Pee-Cahn-Ya.
    These times and temperatures above will render a medium-rare internal temperature.
    I highly recommend investing in an excellent real-time read thermometer.
    When resting the Picanha steak, you can cover it with foil once it’s done cooking, but it isn’t necessary.
    When the meat rests after cooking, it will rise another 2-4°.
    It’s important to have cold meat when placing it on the smoker to absorb as much smoke as possible.
    The fat cap is the outer fat on top of the roast that helps provide flavor.
    You can also slice the Picanha into portions and cook them like a normal steak.
    The slices in the steak help the salt penetrate the meat and prevent it from curling up when it cooks.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 341kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 59gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 162mgSodium: 152mgPotassium: 1069mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 66IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 27mgIron: 7mg
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: American, Brazilian