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picanha churrasco

Mastering the Art of Picanha Churrasco: A Step-by-Step Guide to Grilling Perfection

When it comes to savoring the authentic flavors of Latin American cuisine, few dishes can rival the one and only picanha churrasco. This Brazilian delicacy has a long-standing tradition in Latin American culture, and it’s no wonder why it has become a global sensation. 

Everyone who is a true meat lover wants (and needs) to try some picanha. This cut of meat has a unique flavor, so delicious that it has crossed the Atlantic to the menus of Spain

This cut is the protagonist of all barbecues. And so, picanha churrasco is not only a unique cut of meat, but a delicious excuse to get together

The Origins of Picanha Churrasco: A Brazilian and Latin American Culinary Heritage

Picanha churrasco is a typical Brazilian beef cut. However, Argentina –the true kingdom of beef in the world– is also a central player in this game. 

It turns out that until the 1960s no one knew of the existence of this cut and it was not even on the menu of Brazilian steakhouses and restaurants. But everything changed one night in that decade at a restaurant in Sao Paulo when a millionaire ordered an Argentinean rump steak.

The story goes that the order never made it to the table. Instead he was offered a triangular cut in the shape of a bag that had a thick layer of white fat, which gave the strange cut an exquisite flavor. The man was fascinated by the taste and called for the restaurant’s grill man. 

picanha churrasco
Source: The Spruce Eats

The griller was from Tucumán (north of Argentina), who explained that when he ran out of rump steak, he was forced to serve a cut from his homeland called picaña, the part of the hindquarter where the animal was beaten with an iron stick to be herded.

And the rest is history. Although it was not very common until recently, in the last few years many restaurants have included it in their offerings and some butcher’s shops as well, especially in Spain. The price of picanha is very affordable and they did not want to be left behind in this unique experience. 

So here’s for that Argentinean griller who lived in Brazil and ran out of rump steak. 

Savoring the Goodness: Nutritional and Health Benefits of Picanha Churrasco

If you’re wondering whether indulging in picanha churrasco fits into your balanced diet, you’ll be pleased to know that it offers more than just exquisite flavors. 

Picanha meat is not only a source of high-quality protein but also contains essential vitamins and heart-healthy fats. This combination makes it an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy an extremely delicious meal in a healthy diet

Additionally, Picanha meat is rich in amino acids, which are vital for muscle development and overall well-being.

Behind the Scenes: The Art of Churrasco Grilling

traditional Churrasco grilling method, preparation and seasoning of Picanha for grilling, wood and charcoal

Picanha churrasco is a cut that is very popular because it has the fat on the outside which elevates its flavor to unthinkable heights. However, you have to know how to apply a certain cooking technique to get the most out of it. 

So let’s get down to business. Let’s see how to achieve grilling perfection with picanha churrasco.

  • Traditional Churrasco grilling method

So, the hallmark of Churrasco grilling is the use of skewers, which are threaded with pieces of picanha meat. These skewers are then placed over the open flame, allowing the fat to slowly render and baste the meat, resulting in a mouthwatering, tender texture. 

  • Preparation and Seasoning of Picanha for Grilling

The preparation of picanha meat is a crucial step. Before it even touches the grill, the meat undergoes careful trimming and seasoning

The top layer of fat, a defining feature of picanha, is scored in a distinctive diamond pattern. This not only enhances the presentation but also allows the fat to melt and infuse the meat with its rich, savory goodness.

For seasoning, simplicity is key. Coarse salt is often the primary flavor enhancer, allowing the natural flavors of the meat to shine. Some aficionados may add a touch of garlic or other spices to complement the picanha’s inherent taste. 

  • Wood and Charcoal: The Choice Matters

The choice of fuel for your churrasco grill can significantly impact the final taste of the dish. While both wood and charcoal have their merits, they bring distinct nuances to the grilling experience. So, choose your own adventure. 

Wood imparts a deep, smoky flavor that infuses the meat with a rustic, earthy quality. Various types of wood, such as mesquite, oak, or hickory, can be used to impart specific flavor profiles to the Picanha.

Charcoal, on the other hand, offers consistent and controllable heat, ensuring even cooking and a reliable sear on the meat. It’s the go-to choice for many Churrasco enthusiasts who value precision in their grilling.

In the end, whether you opt for wood or charcoal, the goal remains the same: to create a sizzling, succulent masterpiece that captures the essence of picanha churrasco.

So, the next time you indulge in picanha churrasco, take a moment to appreciate the artistry behind the scenes: the careful balance of tradition, preparation, and choice of fuel that transforms a simple cut of meat into a culinary marvel.

Delightful Picanha Churrasco Recipes to Try at Home 

Now that we’ve explored the heritage and grilling techniques behind Picanha Churrasco, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and explore this sensation in your own kitchen. 

These step-by-step picanha churrasco recipes will help you recreate the magic of Latin American cuisine right at home.

  • Classic Picanha Churrasco

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Picanha meat
  • Coarse salt
  • Optional: Garlic cloves, minced

Instructions:

  • Start by scoring the fat cap of the picanha with a diamond pattern.
  • Season the meat generously with coarse salt (and minced garlic if desired) on both sides. Let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat your grill with charcoal or wood until it reaches medium-high heat.
  • Place the picanha skewers on the grill, fat side down, and grill for about 10-15 minutes on each side, or until it reaches your desired level of doneness.
  • Let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing it thinly against the grain.
  • Serve your classic picanha churrasco with chimichurri sauce and grilled vegetables for an authentic experience.
  • Garlic and Herb Picanha Churrasco

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Picanha meat
  • Coarse salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

  • Score the fat cap of the picanha with a diamond pattern.
  • In a bowl, mix minced garlic, chopped parsley, chopped oregano, and olive oil to create a marinade.
  • Rub the marinade all over the picanha meat and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or overnight for the best flavor).
  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat with charcoal or wood.
  • Grill the Picanha skewers for approximately 10-15 minutes on each side until the fat is crispy, and the meat is cooked to your liking.
  • Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes, then slice it thinly against the grain.
  • Serve your garlic and herb picanha churrasco with a side of salsa verde and grilled potatoes for a burst of flavor.

These recipes will transport you to the vibrant streets of Latin America, where the aroma of sizzling picanha churrasco fills the air. 

Feel free to customize your seasoning and marinades to suit your taste, and don’t forget to invite friends and family to share in the joy of this culinary masterpiece. Remember, picanha churrasco, above all, is the most perfect and delicious excuse to get together. 

Perfect Pairings for Picanha Churrasco: The Perfect Match made in Latin American Heaven

wines, cocktails, non-alcoholic choices

To elevate your picanha churrasco experience, consider pairing it with the perfect beverages that complement the robust flavors of this Latin American treat. 

  • Wines
  • Malbec: Hailing from Argentina, Malbec is a red wine known for its bold, fruity flavors and a hint of spice. Its robust character pairs beautifully with the rich, savory notes of picanha churrasco.
  • Carmenère: This Chilean red wine boasts flavors of dark berries, tobacco, and green bell pepper. Its subtle smokiness and medium body make it an ideal companion for grilled meats.
  • Tempranillo: Originating from Spain, Tempranillo offers a perfect balance of fruitiness and earthiness. Its versatility makes it a great choice to accompany the diverse flavors of picanha churrasco.
  • Cocktails
  • Caipirinha: Embrace the Brazilian spirit with a Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. Made with cachaça, lime, sugar, and ice, its zesty and slightly sweet profile provides a refreshing contrast to the savory meat.
  • Pisco Sour: This classic South American cocktail features Pisco brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Its citrusy kick and frothy texture make it a delightful pairing for churrasco.
  • Mojito: With its combination of fresh mint, lime, sugar, and white rum, the Mojito’s crisp and invigorating flavors make it an excellent choice to cleanse the palate between bites of picanha churrasco.
  • Non-Alcoholic Choices
  • Guarana Soda: Originating from Brazil, Guarana soda offers a unique fruity and slightly herbal taste. Its effervescence and sweetness make it a popular non-alcoholic accompaniment to Brazilian dishes.
  • Citrus-Infused Water: Infuse a pitcher of water with slices of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons for a refreshing and hydrating option that cleanses the palate.

When it comes to perfect pairings for Picanha Churrasco, the key is to balance the meal’s richness with the beverages’ flavors. Cheers to a culinary journey filled with harmony and indulgence!

Where to Find Authentic picanha churrasco in Atlanta, GA

If you’re a meat lover lucky enough to be in Atlanta, GA, just step by Eclipse di Luna. This beloved tapas bar and restaurant specializes in delivering a culinary experience that captures the essence of Latin and Spanish cuisine, and their picanha churrasco is a true standout.

Here you will find the real thing with a little something extra. Atmosphere, music, traditional dance classes and professional grillers. So, why Eclipse di Luna for picanha churrasco?

  • Expertise: Eclipse di Luna has earned a reputation for its culinary expertise in Latin and Spanish cuisine. Their chefs are masters at grilling and preparing picanha churrasco, ensuring that each bite is a flavorful delight.
  • Quality Ingredients: As we saw, the secret to outstanding picanha churrasco lies in the quality of the meat, and Eclipse di Luna sources only the finest cuts of picanha, known for its tenderness and marbling.
  • Traditional Preparation: At Eclipse di Luna, they honor the traditional churrasco grilling method. The picanha meat is carefully seasoned and grilled to perfection, preserving the dish’s authenticity.
  • Cozy Ambiance: The restaurant’s inviting atmosphere, with its warm lighting and Latin music, adds to the overall dining experience. They offer live music every night, and some of them even have salsa classes to really get you into the Latin American world. It’s the perfect place to gather with friends and family. 
  • Variety of Tapas: While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to explore their diverse menu of tapas dishes, which showcase the flavors of Latin America and Spain. In other words, it’s a golden ticket around the world. 

Conclusion: Embrace Picanha Churrasco and Savor the Taste of Latin American Cuisine

In conclusion, picanha churrasco is more than just a dish; it’s a gathering that connects us to the traditions and myths of Latin America. If you’re grilling it at home or enjoying it at a local restaurant in Atlanta, GA, embracing picanha churrasco is an invitation to savor the essence of Latin American cuisine. 

So gather your friends and family, fire up the grill, and immerse yourself in the art of picanha churrasco. Your taste buds can thank us later. 

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