Make This Picanha Steak on Labor Day Weekend
Meridian chef Junior Borges has all the intel on the Brazilian favorite
The first rule of Labor Day: Don’t work too hard on Labor Day. So with the holiday weekend quickly approaching, you’re going to need a menu that feeds a crowd — or just yourself — without taking too much time away from backyard revelry, college football and other activities you like doing when not working. Enter: this picanha recipe from Meridian, the modern Brazilian fine-dining restaurant in Dallas.
Picanha is a cut of beef from the rump of the cow that’s prized in Brazil for its texture and flavor. It’s not as prevalent on American menus as other popular cuts, like filets, ribeyes and New York strips, but it’s a mainstay at Brazilian steakhouses and among in-the-know butchers (you may also see this cut listed as top sirloin or coulotte).
“It is one of my favorite cuts because it’s part of a muscle that contains a lot of beef flavor,” Junior Borges tells InsideHook. He’s the James Beard semifinalist chef behind Meridian, where he’s put together one of the most interesting menus in the state. “It has the fat cap that, when cooked and rendered properly, adds a lusciousness to the meat and has an incredible texture.”
Cooking picanha isn’t too different from cooking other cuts of beef, but Borges says that it’s important to use an elevated grate on your grill to let the fat cap render a bit before placing the steak on the lower part of the grill. “You have to keep an eye on it, as it will create flare ups as the fat drips, so just keep moving the piece and regulate your fire,” he says.
Since picanha is so flavorful, it doesn’t require a marinade or much fuss. Season the meat with salt and pepper, cook it over a flame, and you’re all set. Meridian serves its picanha with confit onions, creamed collards and bordelaise, but you can serve it with whatever you like. Potatoes, rice, grilled vegetables — you can’t go wrong.
And to drink? Borges recommends an ice-cold beer or a caipirinha. The latter is Brazil’s national cocktail made with its national spirit, cachaça, so it’s a fitting accompaniment to your dinner.
Grilled Picanha Recipe
- 1 8-ounce picanha steak
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Get your fire going or your grill started. It’s important to have an elevated rack above your fire.
With a sharp knife, score small incisions on the fat cap, but be careful not to cut the flesh. This will help render the fat faster.
Season your steak, then put the fat side down on the top of your grill. Keep moving the meat, as the fat will produce some flare ups as it starts to melt.
Once you get a nice crust and it has rendered to your liking, move the steak to the lower, hotter part of the grill and finish cooking to your desired temperature.
When ready, remove from the grill and let the steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
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