Saturday, May 28, 2022

Grilled Picanha Roast


Picanha...the cut of beef that made Brazil famous. It's actually what we in the states call a top sirloin roast. But in the states, we trim off that marvelous fat cap, which is truly a crime against humanity. In Brazil, it's left on and what it does to the flavor of the beef is beyond description.

Brazilian steak houses take the Picanha roasts and cut them up into steaks. The steaks are then threaded on a very long skewer and cooked over a wood fire. If you've been to Fogo de Chao Steakhouse, you've seen the waiters walking around with these imposing swords of Picanha steaks and then slicing the steaks off the skewer at the table for the customer. 

It's high drama and the steaks are certainly delicious. However, I prefer to grill my Picanha roast intact. A hot sear on each side and then a low and slow indirect cook. What happens to the taste of the meat is magical. You get a fantastic sear on the meat and fat cap sides and then that fat cap gets a chance to partially melt into the meat.

When it comes to beef, fat equals flavor, so a Picanha roast is one of the most flavorful roasts you can buy.  The roasts are not very large, usually 2-3 pounds each and therefore not terribly expensive. However, they are not easy to find. Costco has them once in a blue moon. You can special order them from your butcher.  Finding them online is a breeze....I've had good luck with both Snake River Farms and Porter Road .

1 Picanha roast, 2 to 3 pounds
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Prepare your grill for 2-zone cooking; a high-heat side and an indirect side.
  2. Two hours prior to cooking, remove roast from refrigerator and set on a wire rack. Coat both sides with the olive oil and and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. When coals are white hot, set roast over coals, fat side down and grill covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Then flip steak and grill covered for 5 more minutes.
  5. Transfer steak to indirect heat side of grill, fat side up. Close the dampers on your grill so that you are maintaining a grill temp of 275º. Grill for approximately 50 more minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check temperature of meat in the thickest area. Pull the roast when you hit 125º. Tent the roast with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Slice and serve.

Wine pairing: A Malbec from Argentina

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