One of the most popular cuts of beef at Estancia Churrascaria is picanha, an extremely tender cut that comes from the rump cap of the cow. In Brazil it is actually widely regarded as one of the best cuts that people can eat, and goes hand in hand with any churrasco dish.
Picanha became popular in Brazil in the 60s and 70s after Hungarian butchers started supplying it to immigrant workers looking to make some dishes from home. Once Brazilians caught wind of picanha, they immediately tried grilling it. The rest is history.
It is believed that the term “picanha” comes from the name of the tool used to brand cattle in Southern Brazil. Others think that the name was born from a misunderstanding between an Argentine and a Brazilian. The story goes that a Brazilian man was eating at his favorite churrascaria in Sao Paulo one day, and asked the server where the meat he was eating was from. The Argentinian server replied “Donde se pica la aña” (Where one brands). The Brazilian heard “pica aña” part through a thick Argentinian accent, and presumably began calling it picanha from then on.
The most recognizable feature of picanha is the thick layer of fat that is at least a couple inches thick. This is because it comes from the very top layer of beef. The fat is traditionally left on during the cooking process and contributes to a great flavor and juiciness. Most often it is seasoned minimally with some sea salt or fresh garlic in order to enhance the flavor, not mask it. Picanha is known not just for its flavor, but for its tenderness as well. This is because it comes from a muscle that isn’t moved very much throughout the life of a cow.
Despite this, picanha is a hard cut come by in American grocery stores because that area of the cow is butchered in a completely different way. If you are looking for authentic picanha in the US, your best bet is to visit a Brazilian steakhouse like Estancia Churrascaria. Contact us today for a reservation!