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Not a well-known cut of meat in the United Kingdom however it is growing in popularity especially within the outdoor cooking and smoking fraternity.
This cut of beef comes from the rump which traditionally we cut steaks from. The rump itself is made up of several individual muscles, but for identification purposes, you have the main muscle cluster and a large flat muscle to which the fat is attached. These muscles are separated by a thin membrane. This upper muscle is the picanha or as we know it in the UK the Rump Cap. This tends not to be removed from the rump by most butchers.
Like many lesser-known cuts of meat, butchers have been enjoying it for decades keeping the knowledge of this delicious and tender piece of beef to themselves.
However with the increasing number of barbecue devotes enjoying the warmer weather of recent years and looking to South Africa, the United States and Latin America for inspiration for their open fire techniques it has started to become a more sort after commodity.
In Brazil, the most prized cut of meat tends to be the Picanha. There, the fat is retained until the steak has been cooked.
A little bit of historical context.
The term “Picanha” derives from the word “picana”, which was a pole traditionally used by ranchers in the southern parts of Portugal and Spain for herding cattle. Picanha is better known as being a Brazilian cut of beef. However, it was little known in Brazil until the 1960s when a member of the wealthy Brazilian Matarazzo family ordered cuadril, (we know this as Tri tip another part of the rump) as he always did, in a well-known restaurant of Rio de Janeiro. The Argentinian chef served the picanha, being short of cuadril, another well-known argentine cut. This was Immediately adopted by Brazilians and has now become part of their cooking culture.
The Picanha can be cooked whole or cut into steaks, personally, I find it better-cooked whole, then sliced thinly to serve. Probably my favourite thing to cook when cooking over fire. Works perfectly well in the oven if you don’t fancy outdoor cooking.