Updated: May 25, 2021
Picanha is a cut of beef made popular in Brazil, and is a popular item at rodizio style Brazilian restaurants like Texas de Brazil or Fogo de Chao. In the United States, the cut is less known and often named top sirloin cap, rump cover, rump cap, or culotte.
Picanha is one of my favorite cuts of steak because the fat cap and the meat offers a deep, rich flavor similar to ribeye but less fatty and more beefy. When you grill it on skewers Gaucho style over open coals, it provides a crispy outside and juicy flavorful inside.
This cut can be hard to find as it is usually not available in some grocery stores, but there are several places you can buy them online, and I have even seen it available at Walmart recently.
Picanha (Sirloin Cap Steak)
Salt or Garlic Salt
Lets Get Cooking
1. Look at the direction that the grain on the meat runs and cut your long slices across the grain. If you like your meat cooked on the more rare side, you would cut your strips to about 2-3 inches thick. I like crispier outer edges so I cut these about 1.5 inches.
The fat cap should be as thin as possible, so if its too thick like in the picture below of the strip to the far right, cut it down so the fat is about 1/4 inch or less thick.
Turn on your gas grill, or begin lighting your charcoal so its ready to go by the time you finish preparing the meat.
2. Season both sides liberally with Salt or preferably Garlic Salt. Take a slice at a time and bend both ends so they touch each other like below, and then insert the skewer from the bottom and gently push it up towards the top. Be sure to leave some spacing between each steak. You can leave this out for at least 30 minutes to get up to room temperature and allow the salt to penetrate the meat before you begin cooking.
3. If you have a charcoal grill, take the grates off so that you can lay the skewers directly across the grill for more direct contact with the flames, and allows you to easily flip the skewers often so that you don't burn one side too much. I am using a Weber Kettle grill for a smoky charred flavor.
They cook pretty quickly so you have to keep an eye on it and to avoid flare ups.
4. Once the meat is ready, let them rest a couple of minutes, and then you can serve them Gaucho style and cut the meat directly off the skewer by slicing the top layer of each meat piece. At Brazilian restaurants, after the meat is cut on one or both sides, they take it back to the grill and re-sear the meat to give each slice a perfect crispy bite, and you can do the same!