I was fortunate enough to find a local butcher that could hook me up with a picanha steak and it was fun learning about this classic Brazilian style cut of beef.
Prepare the Picanha for the Grill
The steak I was working with was a two and a half pounder with beautiful color and a substantial fat cap. The trick to grilling these steaks is to cook them in such a way that the fat cap does not cause massive flare ups. Sure, you could cut the fat cap off but that would do a disservice to this wonderful cut of beef.
While I kept most of the fat cap intact I did I trim some of the hard fat before slicing the roast into three individual steaks. I sliced the roast “with the grain” so that after they were grilled I would be slicing the individual steaks “against the grain” for increased tenderness.
These guys were beauties. (For more general information about this cut check out this article on What is Picanha?)
Season the Picanha
The steaks were seasoned with a liberal coating of salt and pepper and were rested at room temperature for an hour.
You could go with a more complex steak rub but I wanted to keep things simple to enjoy the pure flavor of these steaks.
Set Up Your Weber Kettle for High Indirect Heat
The game plan for these steaks was to cook them to a perfect Medium Rare. My approach was as follows:
- Grill with High Indirect Heat to 120F.
- Move the steaks to Direct High Heat and sear.
- Sear the steaks to an internal temperature of 135F.
I set up my Weber kettle for Indirect High Heat with a full chimney of lit charcoal banked on the left side of the grill and the steaks placed on the right side of the grate.
After the steaks had been cooking for about 30 minutes they reached a temperature of 120F.
I moved the steaks over to the hot side of the grill to give them a nice sear. The fat cap rendered fast and put on a heck of a show as it flamed up. You have to be paying attention at this step and keep the steaks moving!
Pro Tip: Using a set of GrillGrate panels makes this part super easy.
I think this was the first time in my life where I put down a set of grill marks on a fat cap 🙂
When the steak reached an temperature of 135F they were pulled from the grill and allowed to rest about 10 minutes before being sliced and devoured.
This steak was very tender with a deep, earthy flavor. It is traditional to serve this steak with a chimichurri sauce, rice and beans.
Picanha manages to strike what might be the perfect balance between being naturally lean but incredibly juicy. There were some bites that had a distinctly sirloin type flavor while others that felt like the could have been a tri tip.
Grilled Picanha on a Weber Kettle
- 1 Picanha roast about 2.5 pounds
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp black pepper
- If needed, trim the picahna of excessive surface fat but do not remove entire fat cap.
- Slice the roast, with the grain, into three steaks.
- Season the steaks with salt and pepper.
- Allow the steaks to sit at room temperature for an hour so the salt can dissolve into the meat.
- Grill the steaks with high, indirect heat for 15-20 minutes until an internal temperature of 120F is reached.
- Move the steaks directly over the heat and sear for 90 seconds per side until an internal temperature of 135F is reached.