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Firsts - Picanha Santa Maria Style

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    Firsts - Picanha Santa Maria Style

    Went to my friendly butcher's shop in search of a sirloin tip, was in the mood. He said he was fresh out but he had a small Picanha steak instead. I grabbed that puppy straight away, been dying to get my hands on one. For those who don't know, Picanha is actually the cap that sits on top of the Top Sirloin Butt Roast. It's sometimes referred to here as a rump cap or sirloin cap. The Top-Butt is made up of the Culotte muscle and the Top Sirloin (minus some trimmings). So, if you have a butcher that deals with Top Sirloin, just ask for the Culotte, which is triangular in size. They are beloved by the South Americans and used all the time in Brazilian style churrascarias usually done on skewers and sliced onto you plate like such .....


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    I wasn't into all that so I just decided to cook it like a thick steak whole, then slice into strips against the grain. They say this is the best steak in the world so as a comparison/challenge I decided to pit it against one of my favorites, the cap steak.....


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    I salt brined all the meat over night and made up a simple rub of 3 parts pepper to 1 part each of granulated onion and garlic powders. For the Picanha purist it's only rock salt, but I wanted both steaks done the way I would normally do them. so sue me.

    Now, for my second first, how to cook these. Normally they would cook them over an open wood fire, or better said here in the States, via Santa Maria style. It just so happens I was watching a YouTube channel by Baby Back Maniac where he decided to convert his WSM into a sort of mock Santa Maria cooker. Why not, it's free ? So I went ahead and followed his lead. Took my WSM and stripped it of all by the bottom with the burn grates of course, the middle section and the two cook grates. Although not adjustable, the grates give you two zones to work with for grilling. Perfect. I decided to start with some lit charcoal to establish my bed .......


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    ....then just added some oak sticks and a couple of mesquite mini-logs (was all I had on hand) to start a real wood fire in the bottom. Here's a view of the setup through the door (which I closed). I opened the vents wide for good air flow ......

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    ....notice the bottom "zone" which is ideal for searing. The fire got immediately hot, like 600* hot (may have over done it) and it took about 20 minutes to settle down to 300* at which point I placed my steaks. Remarkably 300* held steady at the top grate for the next 30-40 minutes of cooking time once the fire settled down. Here are the steaks getting pretty close to being done .....


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    ....we really like out meat rare so they were all pulled between 125-128* of IT, rested for 15-20 minutes then sliced......

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    I gotta tell yea, the taste of grilling with real wood for a change (versus propane or charcoal) is SOOOO much better, that's number one. I've done this on my offset's fire box but it gets so hot that it's hard to control, this is much better and easier. Obviously a real Santa Maria pit would be ideal.

    Secondly, I am now a huge fan of Picanha !!! I had equal portions of both steaks and quite honestly, they tasted almost exactly the same to me, tender, delicious. They both were done almost the same as you can see. I would say Picanha is better than rib eye and probably as good as cap steaks (at least in this instance). Now I see why they go nuts over this cut of beef !!!

    If you get a chance and can find one, try a Picanha. It's an amazingly tender and juicy cut of meat !! And if you are a cheap skate like me, rig yourself up a poor man's Santa Maria cooker, it's well worth the effort !!!

    Se cuide! Troutman is out !!!!
    Last edited by Troutman; April 2, 2018, 09:55 AM.

    #2
    Nice write up. Those steaks look awesome.
    Well done. I mean rare. You know what I mean. 👍

    Comment


      #3
      Looks great!

      Comment


        #4
        Really cool how you did the comparison and the grill set up. I haven't purchased or tried either cut yet but want to. Thanks for sharing.

        Comment


          #5
          I think I could do something similar by using the rotisserie extension for my kettle. hmmmm......

          Thanx.

          Comment


            #6
            That looks above excellence Troutman! I can't remember the last time I cooked anything over charcoal I've been using wood for so long. I got a 22" Weber that sits on the side of the garage and is very lonely.
            There is a nice Santa Maria pit with a vertical smoker mounted on a trailer in the classified section. Just sayin'!

            Comment


              #7
              I got a couple the other day and totally screwed them up. You inspired me to have another go. With your good info hopefully second time will be a charm.

              Comment


                #8
                Excellent! I have these two sitting in my freezer. I dont think I am going to test side by side though. You already did that for me. Lol


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                Comment


                • Troutman
                  Troutman commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Went to the SRF website last night and saw on the package it said "peeled". The site confirmed what I thought that meant they remove the fat cap. Like brisket I think it needs to remain. Let us know how yours turns out.

                #9
                DUDE !!!! That’s some serious meat !! I found mine locally but will keep SRF in mind !!

                Comment


                  #10
                  Great write up. I bet that oak and mesquite were killer!

                  Comment


                    #11
                    Really nice looking cook! Did the steaks spend any time on the lower "sear" grate or upstairs the whole time?

                    Comment


                    • Troutman
                      Troutman commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Stayed plenty hot upstairs so left them there !

                    #12
                    Wow. Great write up.

                    Comment


                      #13
                      Nice Cook, I need to try some different cuts soon.

                      Comment


                        #14
                        Welcome aboard the picanha train! You did a great job!

                        Comment


                        • Troutman
                          Troutman commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Inspired by you my friend !!! I actually went and bought (3) big ones (3+#) last night. Got them wet aging in my frig.

                        • gijsveltman
                          gijsveltman commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Troutman glad I could help! Wet aging does great things for this cut!

                        #15
                        Gabbys grills do a great attachment for Weber Kettle's so you can cook with live fire. http://gabbysgrills.com/

                        Comment


                        • Troutman
                          Troutman commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Those are really sweet but double the cost of the WSM. Why bother when using existing parts works out just fine !!!

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