When we think of the most beloved, classic steaks around the world, cuts such as ribeye, NY strip, filet mignon, porterhouse, top sirloin, and tenderloin often come to mind. And for good reason, they’re mouthwatering and incredibly delicious. Nobody that eats beef could possibly deny that very simple truth. Even the most staunch vegans have deep cravings for these amazing cuts of steak at times. Yet with picanha, it is basically unknown in the United States and many places around the world.
For some strange reason, this unique cut hasn’t yet gained the recognition of some of the classics. It is somewhat bizarre because of how highly prized it is in areas of South America. Picanha is consistently praised and rated as one of the most tender, delicious cuts of beef available. Some people rate it as their absolute favorite, yet it is relatively unknown in the United States and many other areas around the world. In addition, the price is very reasonable compared to some of the more high-end cuts.
The Qualities That Make Picanha Unique
Despite the general lack of recognition, the intrigue of this unique cut is beginning to grow around the world. While those in Brazil and other South American countries know it well, it is somewhat of a rarity to see it on menus over here. Furthermore, many supermarkets still don’t carry cuts of picanha. One of the reasons for it’s lack of popularity may be how butchers process it. In many countries, the majority of butchers break it down into parts of a round, loin, and other cuts. This is a tragic sacrifice of an amazing cut of beef.
Picanha is easily distinguished from other cuts of meat because of the part of a cow that it comes from. It is derived from just above the rear of the cow, where it sits on a cap of fat. The shape of it is somewhat triangular, but instead of the point on a triangle, it is a bit more rounded like the tip of a tongue. The real question is, how does it taste?
According to those that know about it, picanha either rivals or surpasses anything else they’ve ever tried. One research group compared it to several other cuts of beef. The subjects rated it as having more taste, flavor, tenderness, aroma, and juiciness than the others being tested. Despite it being fairly low in fat content aside from the cap, it remains very soft.
Picanha often shows decent marbling, but the appeal goes beyond it. Since the upper region of the cow’s rear isn’t a muscle that’s overworked, it allows it to be very tender. It is highly recommended to not remove the fat cap for maximum taste and texture.
How To Maximize Your Picanha
Picanha is said to have similarities to the texture and taste of a sirloin, only juicier and with more intense flavor. If dry aged, the flavor and tenderness intensifies even more. Aim for a product that has been dry aged for 20-30 days for maximum flavor. One other advantage is that the flavor and texture are very consistent throughout the whole cut. Due to the location it is derived from, it is free of those tough bits of connective tissue like many other cuts of beef. If all of that doesn’t inspire you to try it, perhaps you should consider veganism?
It’s critical to monitor this type of cut when cooking because it is easily overcooked. If this occurs, a slightly rubbery texture may develop rather than the soft and tender one that’s so highly revered. Seasoning it should be fairly simple with salt, pepper, and maybe one other spice of choice if desired. Dry aged picanha has more than enough flavor without requiring superfluous seasoning blends. One the the best things about it is the surprisingly affordable price. There is simply no better quality beef for the price. For many people, it rivals or even surpasses cuts that are double or triple the price.