What Is Picanha?

What is Picanha

Picanha is a Brazilian beef dish. It consists of a thin slice of meat from the bottom sirloin or top round steak that is traditionally cooked over coals. The meat is then sliced into thin strips before being served.

Picanha is also known as churrasco (Portuguese) or chouriço (Spanish). This dish originated in Brazil, where it was traditionally prepared using charcoal grills. Today, picanha is often grilled indoors using electric griddles.

Picanha is usually eaten at lunchtime, accompanied by rice, beans, salad, and bread. It is typically served with white wine or beer.

How To Cook Picanha

The ribeye is often called the king of steaks.  If that’s the case, then picanha must be the queen! It is very delicious and affordable. You should definitely try cooking this meat.

Originating in Brazil and then becoming popular in Portugal, picanha (pronounced “pee-Kahn-yah”) is an incredibly flavorful cut of beef. 

Despite its affordable price, it is incredibly delicious, and it can feed your family whilst simultaneously impressing them.  That is, of course, if you cook it well!

It is important to note that some people prefer their picanha medium rare, while others like theirs more done. Medium rare is perfect for those who want a bit of flavor but not too much.

However, if you are looking for something a little more tender, you may want to go ahead and grill it until it reaches the desired doneness. This recipe will serve 4 people.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound of picanha

  • Salt & pepper

  • Olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.67 °C).
  • Season the picanha with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Heat up a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and sear the picanha on each side for about 3 minutes.
  • Place the seared picanha on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place it in the preheated oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain. Serve immediately.

What Cut Of Beef Is Picanha?

Picanha is cut from the upper portion of the rump. You might also know this cut as a rump cover or rump cap, a sirloin cap, or even a culotte steak. It is triangular in form and surrounded by a thick fat cap.

Because it is not a muscle that is overused, this cut remains beautifully soft and juicy, producing an incredible flavor when cooked.

When buying picanha, the three things to check are its size, fat, and liquid content. Usually, smaller cuts are best – about 1 kg to 1.2 kg in size. Anything larger is likely to contain parts of other cuts, including the tougher outer thigh that runs below the rump. 

A good picanha should never be too big. You also want at the very least a 1.5 cm fat cap, and not too much visible liquid in the package.

Steak should always be cut with grain. Otherwise, when cooked and rested, it won’t be very tender. 

Otherwise, if you don’t want to cut the picanha into steaks, you could roast the picanha whole and then slice it afterward. 

To do this, you should place it in a cast iron skillet first and sear the outside before roasting it in the oven at 355° Fahrenheit (179.44 °C). 

Cook for 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 122 °F (50 °C).  Let it rest for 15 minutes before cutting it into slices. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Find Picanha in the USA?

You can find picanha in most grocery stores. If you live in a large city, chances are there’s one near you. In small towns, you’ll have to search around a bit.

If you’re lucky enough to find a butcher shop that sells picanha, they usually carry a variety of cuts. They should be able to tell you what cut it belongs to.

If you’re still having trouble finding picanha, try asking your local butcher. He or she should be able to help you out.

How Long Does Picanha Take to Cook?

The cooking time depends on the cut. The thicker the piece, the longer it takes to cook. For instance, a picanha steak should take between 12-15 minutes per inch in thickness. So, a 2-inch steak would need 20 minutes to get to an internal temperature of 125° F (52.68 °C).

The thinner the cut, the faster it cooks. This is because the surface area to volume ratio is higher, so more heat penetrates the meat quickly.

A thin strip steak will only require 4-6 minutes per inch thickness.

How Do I Store Picanha?

To store picanha properly, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for no longer than two days. After that, freeze it for up to six months.

To thaw frozen picanha, place it in the refrigerator overnight. Then, remove it from its packaging and allow it to come back to room temperature before cooking.

How Much Should I Serve My Family Each Week?

Picanha is a great source of protein. One serving of picanha contains approximately 6 grams of protein. That means you can serve your family 3 servings each week.

However, keep in mind that the USDA recommends limiting red meat consumption to once every five weeks.

Is Picanha Good for Me?

Yes! Picanha has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and prevent heart disease.

It is also high in vitamin B12, which helps maintain healthy nerves and brain function.

It is low in saturated fats, making it a healthier alternative to beef.

How Much Protein Is There in Picanha?

One pound of picanha contains about 585 calories. It also provides about 37 grams of protein.
That makes it a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

How Much Fat Is There in Picanha?

One pound of picanha weighs about 8 ounces (0.3 kg). It contains about 0.5 ounces (18.9 g) of fat. That’s less than half a tablespoon.

This amount of fat is much smaller than the average American consumes in a day.

How Much Iron Is There in Picanha?

One pound of cooked picanha contains about 1.3 milligrams of iron. This is about 10% of the recommended daily intake for women and 14% for men.

Iron is important for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails.

How Much Cholesterol Is There in Picanha?

One pound of raw picanha contains about 160 milligrams of cholesterol. Cooking reduces this by about 50%.
So, if you eat three pounds of picanha, you’ll consume about 80 milligrams of cholesterol instead of 160 milligrams.

Cholesterol is necessary for many bodily functions, but too much can lead to serious health problems such as cardiovascular diseases.

How Much Sodium Is In Picanha?

One pound of picanha contains about 190 milligrams of sodium. This is about 25% of the recommended daily limit for adults.

Sodium is found naturally in salt. However, excessive amounts are harmful to our bodies.

Sodium causes water retention and fluid retention, which can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, or legs.

High sodium intake may also increase your risk of developing hypertension and stroke.

Conclusion

To summarize, Picanha is a very flavorful cut of meat and is a Brazilian staple that is served worldwide. With our guide, you’ll now know exactly what Picanha is, and how to cook it to perfection so that you can keep the whole family happy and with full tummies! 

Brandon White
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