What’s cooking today: Twice-cooked picanha steaks
Since discovering picanha steak three years ago I’ve become a fanboy of this super cut and the Brazilian way of cooking it.
You know you’ve done something right when the dinner table is agog with oohs, aahs and other exclamations of intense pleasure to the point of blushing. With all the humility I can muster, I think this might have been the best steak I’ve ever cooked; yes, even better than that reverse-seared steak you all loved so much. Seems I’m on a steak roll, so to speak. (This from a cook with a life-long history of messing up steak, so I’m enjoying this immensely.) Best I write it down for you then…
Picanha is the tail end of the rump (which of course is the tail end of the beast), but a rump steak can have as many as five separate muscles whereas picanha is just one. This makes for even cooking and tenderness.
A picanha is best cooked whole, first, then sliced into steaks and grilled again. For the first time, I marinated a picanha, for as long as 36 hours. Hooboy, this was so good.
One key factor is that you must score the fat cap. And whatever you do, don’t trim the fat, because picanha is all about that fat cap. Cooked to perfection, the crisp fat is the most delicious part of the cut.
For extra citrus tang I included yuzu paste in the marinade, which gives it a bit of bite as well, as does the mustard. Yuzu is made from the zest of yuzu fruit mixed with chilli and sea salt.
8 fat garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp yuzu paste
1 Tbsp mustard powder
2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
2 tsp black peppercorns
Using a very sharp knife, score the fat in a diamond pattern without piercing any of the meat.
Mix together the olive oil and juice of a lemon and stir in the yuzu paste, mustard powder, garlic, oregano and black peppercorns. It’s an unusual mix and there’s a mighty amount of garlic in there, but trust me, it is truly delicious.
Marinate the picanha in this mixture for 24 hours or more, mine went for 36 hours-plus.
First, braai the whole picanha over very hot coals, turning frequently, until you have a beautiful crunchy and golden brown exterior.
Remove the whole picanha to a board and cut it into thick steaks: reference the photo.
Now put those steaks back on the braai and cook them quickly on both sides over a high heat. Ideally, leave them pink in the middle. About 2 minutes on each side ought to be enough, but that depends on the strength of the heat under it. More heat is best for this cut of meat.
Serve it up and sit back and be overwhelmed by what you’re eating and the expressions and sounds of enraptured carnivores at the table. Bibs may be useful. DM/TGIFood
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