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Juicy Smoked Picanha – best kept Brazilian secret!
Picanha. Top Sirloin. Rump Cap. It’s a cut known by many names. Call it whatever you like, just make sure you’re eating it!
The picanha is fast becoming a popular cut for US grillers and smokers, and with good reason! This compact and even cut is packed with flavor, though perhaps a little more toothsome than some of the forequarter cuts we are used to. Often, it’s confused with the tri tip, but I assure you they are two different muscles. The Picanha is also known as the Sirloin Cap in the US, or the Rump Cap in Australia.
I did a few experiments to determine how best to tackle the thick fat cap that is normally found on the top sirloin cap. The fat cap is actually a desirable for rodizio churrascas (Brazilian grills) because it renders nicely over the flame and coals. However, the same cannot be said for smoking. Unlike brisket fat, the fat deposits from the hind quarter have an entirely different consistency that does not render in the same manner.
When I left the cap on, it become even tougher, and chewier. Nearly like a rubber seal over the top of the meat that tightens during cooking. An attempt to sear the cap after smoking brought no joy, because the smoking process had tensed it up the cap, but not rendered any of the fat. The culprit is a layer of tougher silver skin between the fat and the muscle – you can see it peeking out from beneath the fat layer in this picture:
Thus, the only logical conclusion: remove the cap altogether, just like a tri tip. Trust me, it works.
When it comes to smoking, I cook on my Signature JP Edition pit.
To season the picanha I used my Hardcore Carnivore Black rub (that’s what provides the incredible contrast even though the meat has only been smoking for an hour!).
For knives and other recommended gear, check my Amazon page.
Here’s the recipe:
Smoked Medium Rare Picanha
- 1 x whole picanha (about 2-3 lb)
- 3 tablespoons Hardcore Carnivore Black seasoning
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- Prepare the meat. If picanha has a fat cap still on, be sure to trim away and remove any silverskin.
- Preheat a smoker to 250f.
- . Pat the meat dry, then apply the Hardcore Carnivore Black rub generously all over the meat, massaging and pushing it in well.
- Lay the picanha in the smoker. Combine vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Cook the picanha, spritzing every 20 minutes with the vinegar solution. Spritz only 5 times total - after this you want to allow the bark to dry out and crust up.
- Smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 130f, which will take about 2-3 hours.
- Wrap tightly in foil or butcher paper, and rest in a cooler for 30-45 minutes, then slice against the grain and serve.
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