Picanha with Molho À Campanha and Farofa (Spit-Roasted Sirloin with Country Salsa and Toasted “Flower”)Steven Raichlen
Other Recipes from Planet Barbecue Episode 108 – The Brazilian Grill
Traditionally, Brazilian picanha is spit-roasted to take full advantage of the basting properties of the melting fat. You can also direct grill it—a technique used by grill masters in neighboring Argentina. Yes, more and more Argentineans and Uruguayans are discovering the virtues of this singular beef cut. I hope North America won’t be far behind. If your butcher looks perplexed when you ask for picanha, ask for top cap sirloin.
Method: Spit-roasting (rotisserie) or direct grilling
Picanha with Molho À Campanha and Farofa (Spit-Roasted Sirloin with Country Salsa and Toasted “Flower”)
You’ll also need:
- A rotisserie set-up (optional) or long metal skewers; heavy-duty grill gloves.
1: Set up your grill for spit-roasting and preheat to high. (To be strictly authentic, spit-roast over charcoal or wood, preferably mesquite.)
2: Cut the top sirloin crosswise. across the grain, into slices about 1 1/2 inches thick. Skewer each slice on the spit through the ends in such a way that the fat forms a rounded curve on the outside like the letter “C.” Skewer the pieces one next to the other—you want the meat to abut and you should have 3 or 4 in a row. Season the meat on all sides with salt.
3: Attach the spit to the rotisserie motor and spit-roast the meat until the fat cap is sizzling and the meat is darkly browned on the outside, but still rare to medium-rare inside (125 to 135 degrees), 12 to 15 minutes, or as needed.
4: To serve the picanha Brazilian-style, carefully carry the spit, hands protected by heavy-duty grilling or welders’ gloves, to the table. Carve the meat into thin slices onto each person’s plate (small tongs help). Alternatively, transfer the picanha to a cutting board and thinly slice it across the grain, including a bit of fat and a bit of meat in each slice. Shingle the slices on a platter or plates. (Be sure to capture the juices.)
Direct grill method: Here’s how picanha is grilled in Brazilian homes, not to mention at grill joints in neighboring Uruguay and Argentina:
1: Cut the top sirloin crosswise (across the grain) into slices 1 1/2 inches thick.
2: Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate.
3: Arrange the meat pieces fat side down on the grill. Direct grill until fat is partially rendered, crisp, and brown, 2 to 4 minutes, moving the meat as needed to dodge flare-ups. Turn each piece of meat on its side and grill until browned, 2 minutes per side. Grill the bottom the same way. You’re looking for medium rare—an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in one of the narrow ends to the center of the meat will read about 125 to 135 degrees.
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Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue is a production of Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2023 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein