Churrasco Picanha

There are few tastier cuts of beef than Picanha cooked on a rotisserie over an open fire.

Also known as tri tip or rump cap, its a cut frequently associated with churrasco style cooking. Churrasco is a Portuguese term for grilling meat, and can often be found in Brazilian cuisine. 

A triangular cut positioned at the top of the rump part of the cow, it’s surrounded by a thick layer of fat, which helps retain flavour through the cooking process. 

Cooking on the rotisserie will enhance the flavour, ensuring an even cook and also helping to retain the fat thus keeping more of the flavour. If you don’t have access to a good rotisserie, you can still achieve great results on the grill.

Just add salt, nothing more. Keep it simple. Pepper may burn if you’re cooking it over a really hot temperature. The flavour of this magnificent cut will be enough, no need to add any additional flavourings.

Picanha joints are readily available from good butchers in the UK. We sourced ours from our good friend James at http://www.jl-butchers.co.uk, a great online butcher where you can find a variety of different cuts from quality rare and traditional breeds.

Ingredients

1.3kg – 1.5kg whole picanha joint 

Plenty of rock salt

Method

Prepare the meat, it’s pretty simple and takes no time at all. Take the beef out of the fridge and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes or so. Trim off any membrane left on the meat side. On the fat side, you want to keep a good solid layer of fat, around half an inch. 


Cut the picanha into 3 individual pieces on a angle perpendicular to the fibres, running diagonally through the piece of meat.  Score the fat cap, this will encourage flames to form fromyour fire pit, but more importantly it will help the joint keep its shape. It’ll also help drip some melted fat over the surface of the meat whilst the rotisserie rotates, encouraging even more flavour to seep into the beef. Then bend the three pieces into semicircles, fat-side out. The surrounding fat will keep the meat moist. Now pierce them onto a large skewer. 

Rub the meat very generously with the rock salt. Don’t be shy, a salty crusty exterior is what you are looking for. You want big chunky crystals that will penetrate the meat a little, but not too much. 

Light up a chimney starter full of natural lumpwood charcoal. Once it’s hot, load it into your BBQ and add the skewer of beef. Turn the rotisserie and cook until the beef hits an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C, for a medium rare finish. The time this takes will be highly dependant on how hot your fire is, and how close the spit is to the burning embers.

Once cooked, let the meat rest for at least ten minutes. Be patient, good things will come to those who wait.

Slice up whilst still on the skewer. Thick or thin, to your preference. And enjoy!

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