The Picanha, also known as the Top Sirloin Cap, is one of the most prized roasts out there — but finding one of these beloved roasts is difficult. Especially popular at Brazilian steakhouses, this cut is known for the thick fat cap, which renders out and bastes the meat as it cooks. This fat cap is often cut away by most butchers in America, but this is truly what sets this beef apart — it provides exceptional moisture and flavor, letting the the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and richness of Picanha shine. Cut the top of the rump (the same location as where coulotte steak is from), this roast is large enough to feed a crowd but can also be cut into individual steaks.
The Brazilian tradition of churrasco highlights the bold flavors of the meat, by seasoning picanha simply with salt. A picanha already has all the flavor and tenderness it needs. Rock salt helps seals in the meat juices and enhances its natural flavors.
Unlike other cuts of meat, the end cap is often the tastiest.
As with all cuts of beef, it should be sliced against the grain.
Tri-tip is often mistaken as trimmed picanha, but the two cuts are actually different. They both cover the rump and are triangular, but they make up two opposite sides of the muscle. The larger, tougher side is the tri-tip (bottom sirloin), and the opposite side, which is smaller with a thick fat cap, is the Brazilian picanha (top sirloin cap). Tri-tip is a good substitute for picanha, but the two muscles are distinct.