Brazilian Picanha Tacos
By: Jack Mancuso
Picanha is one of my favorite cuts of steak. It lends itself to creating rich tastes your guests will never forget. You can get fancy with it, but honestly, it doesn’t need much for an amazing meal. You’ll enjoy my recipe for Picanha Tacos. They’re great for lunch and dinner equally.
So, what is Picanha?
Picanha is a popular cut of beef that originated in Brazil and has gained popularity in other parts of the world. You may see it labeled as top sirloin cap, churrasco, rump cover, rump cap, or coulotte. Picanha is a triangular-shaped steak that comes from the top of the rump muscle. It’s known for its thick layer of fat, known as the fat cap. Chefs appreciate this cut for its tenderness, juiciness, and exquisite flavor.
When cooked, the fat cap of picanha melts down into the meat, resulting in succulent, flavorful bites. Generally, people season Picanha simply with salt and pepper. The fat is the real flavor booster here. This cut of beef is best cooked to medium-rare or medium.
2 lbs picanha steak (for four)
1 lime (juiced)
½ cup cilantro
1 avocado (peeled and cut)
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup cilantro
1 medium red onion
1 shot tequila
Soft Taco Shells
Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sprinkle the fat calf of the picanha evenly with coarse salt
- Sear the cap over charcoal. Remove.
- Cut it going with the grain into 1" steaks and salt them
- Grill, then cut up into bite-size morsels.
- Take the lime juice, cilantro, avocado, Cuso’s seasoning, and Greek yogurt, placing them into a food processor/blender and mixing until well incorporated. This is your crema.
- Next, pit the peach and cut it in half.
- Grill it lightly
- Chop it along with the tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, and red onion. Try to keep the chop size consistent with the help of a good Chef's Knife. This is your pico.
- Sprinkle some cheese on a griddle and lay a taco shell on top. Let it melt a bit, then flip.
- Remove from the heat and begin layering.
- Put some picanha on first, followed by the peach pico, and topped with the crema.
- Fold up and enjoy.
The exact history of the picanha cut is not well-documented, but it has origins in Brazil and has gained popularity in Latin America and beyond.
One theory suggests that the term "picanha" derives from the word "picana," which is a pole used by ranchers in Portugal and Spain for herding cattle. Picanha first became popular in Brazil and is one of the most prized cuts of meat there.
Traditional Brazilian preparation involves skewering the meat and grilling it over charcoal with minimal seasoning, usually just sea salt. The fat cap is intact to enhance the flavor and moisture of the steak during cooking.
Although picanha is little known in the United States, it has gained popularity in recent years because of the rise in the passionate barbecue culture, which is discovering whole new flavor profiles from around the world.
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