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Roast Picanha Dinner

Roast Picanha With Garlic Herb Butter and Baby Dutch Potatoes

‘Tis the season for comfort food. With the holidays fast approaching, traditional and family recipes have a special place at the table. In the US, we typically think of whole roast turkey, honey-cured ham, or perhaps the most decadent of all: prime rib with horseradish sauce.

Prime Rib vs Ribeye

“Prime rib” describes the entire rib roast portion, derived from the “primal rib” section of the cow. A prime rib roast can contain anywhere from two to twelve ribs.

By contrast, a ribeye refers to a portion that has been cut from the rib roast. In other words, prime rib and ribeye are from the exact same area of the cow, but the ribeye has been cut from the roast before being prepared. 

The key difference is how these cuts of beef are cooked. A ribeye, due to its large size, will need to be seared under high heat then finished low and slow to maintain its tenderness. A ribeye is best grilled or seared over high heat for a few minutes on each side. 

Picanha As a Substitute for Prime Rib

As we discuss prime rib and how it is prepared, we can’t help being reminded of another, less traditional (but no less delicious) cut of beef: the picanha. If you are looking for something truly special to serve this Holiday Season, why not try Brazil’s version of prime rib?

What is Picanha?

In the US, picanha is known as a rump cap or sirloin cap, since it is derived from the “rump” section of the cow. You may also find it under the names “rump cover” or “culotte steak.” In the States it is more common to find smaller cuts of the picanha in the form of loin or round steaks. 

As such, you may need to visit a specialty butcher or order picanha online. When purchasing your picanha, look for a dry cut (no visible liquid in the packaging) and a fat cap that is at least 1.5 cm in thickness. Your picanha should weigh between 2-3 lbs.

How to Cook Picanha

Picanha is traditionally cooked over a grill on high heat, but it does just as well when slow-roasted in the oven. It will, of course, have a different flavor profile: grilling produces a delicious smoky, almost-charred taste, while roasting in the oven brings out the truly succulent and beefy flavor. 

You will start by bringing your picanha to room temperature. Score the fat cap and season liberally with salt and pepper. Next you will sear the picanha to a crisp it while the oven preheats. Prepare a whipped emulsion of butter, fresh herbs, and minced garlic to top your finished dish.

Roast Picanha with Garlic Herb Butter and Baby Dutch Potatoes 

Ingredients:

*For the Roast Picanha and Potatoes

2.5 lbs picanha

4 cloves garlic

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound yellow new potatoes/baby Dutch potatoes

 

*For the Garlic Herb Butter

2 sticks of softened butter

2 clove of finely minced garlic

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme

1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary

1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Trim the fat from your picanha to about 0.5 cm and let it sit at room temperature for one hour.
  2. Score the trimmed fat cap and rub salt and pepper all over the roast. 
  3. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat and preheat your oven for 400 degrees fahrenheit. 
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to your preheated skillet and brown the roast on all sides, approximately 2 minutes each side. 
  5. While the meat browns, prepare your roasting pan and potatoes. Line the pan with aluminum foil for easier clean up. Wash the baby potatoes and put them in the pan. Lightly toss with olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and kosher salt.
  6. When the roast is browned on all sides, put it in the same roasting pan as the potatoes. Clear a spot for the roast so the potatoes surround it as everything cooks. 
  7. Roast the picanha and potatoes until the potatoes are fork tender and the meat reaches an internal temperature of about 129 degrees (30-40 minutes). This will carry over to medium rare (135 degrees fahrenheit) as the meat rests. 
  8. Cover the roast and potatoes with foil and let the meat rest for fifteen minutes.
  9. While the meat rests, prepare your garlic herb butter:
  • In a stand mixer, add your chopped garlic and lemon juice. Let this sit for a few minutes. The acid in the lemon juice will “cook” your garlic and eliminate the bite of raw garlic.
  • Add in the butter, chopped herbs, salt, and black pepper (to taste). Blend using the whisk attachment to the butter is whipped until fluffy. 
  • You can serve the whipped butter immediately with your steaks or make it ahead of time. Roll it into a log shape using plastic wrap and then cut into disks to put on top of your dish. 

Slice your roast against the grain and top with herb butter. The butter will melt into the steak and roasted potatoes, making a truly flavorful and unforgettable meal. 

Give the Gift of Churrasco This Holiday Season

For the carnivore in your life, what could be better than a gift card to one of our 50+ Brazilian steakhouses across the US? We offer standard and digital options for your convenience. Go online today to purchase your card in time for the Holidays. 

If home cooking is more your style, we offer three curated butcher boxes with prime cuts of meat delivered to right your door. Pair your meat with bottles of select Dao Vineyard wines for the ultimate gift. 

Passion Fruit Caipirinha

Two Passion Fruit Caipirinhas side by side

The caipirinha is a favorite cocktail both in and outside of Brazil. The traditional drink calls for sugar, lime juice, and cachaca, a strong liquor distilled from fermented sugarcane. Cachaca is central to the food and drink scene of Brazil, where it has been produced for hundreds of years. 

How Much Do Brazilians Love Cachaca?

Cachaca is the national spirit of Brazil and is heavily regulated. Brazil is the only country permitted to make the drink, which is usually 38-48 percent alcohol by  volume. It is estimated that Brazilians drink about 360,000,000 gallons of cachaca every year. Of the more than 1.3 billion litres produced annually, only about 1% is exported. Germany has the highest consumption rate of cachaca outside of brazil.

By these numbers, I think we can safely say that Brazilians really love their cachaca.

Where Does Cachaca Come From?

Cachaca production dates back to the early 16th century when Portuguese colonists began to transfer sugar production from the Madeira Islands to Brazil. 

Up to this point, a drink called aguardente de cana (“cane alcohol”) had been produced in Madeira using specialized stills. These stills were brought to Brazil, along with the first cuttings of sugar cane, in around 1532. The drink was renamed “cachaca.”

What Does Cachaca Taste Like?

The flavors of cachaca depend largely on how it was produced and if/how long it was aged. Cheaper versions can have a stronger, almost chemical-like taste. Young, small-batch cachaca is usually described as “earthy” or “grassy.” Aged versions will take on the flavors of their barrels and have more complicated notes, like spices, fruits, and grass. 

How is Cachaca Different from Rum?

Like rum, cachaca has an aged and unaged version. The branca or “white” cachaca is bottled immediately after distillation, although it can be aged according to the preference of the distiller. Cachaca branca is usually cheaper and not as smooth, which makes it the preferred choice for mixed drinks. 

Aged cachaca is known as amarala, or “yellow,”to reflect its golden color. For this reason it is also sometimes called ouro, meaning “gold.” Cachaca amarala is aged for at least three years and up to fifteen years. It has a smooth taste and is typically sipped neat.

Unlike rum, which is produced traditionally using the byproducts of sugar production (especially molasses), cachaca is produced from fresh, fermented sugar cane juice. However, there are certain rums that are produced using this technique as well. Rhum agricole, for example, is produced using fresh cane.

The distinction between rum and cachaca seems to be largely a cultural one. Until 2013, cachaca was referred to as “Brazilian Rum” in the United States because of its similarities in production, aging, and taste. In 2013, an agreement was signed to refer to the drink by its proper name and to describe cachaca as “a type of rum and a distinctly Brazilian product.”

How to Make Passion Fruit Juice Caipirinha

Like most cocktails, the caipirinha has many variations. The traditional lime juice and sugar can be substituted with nearly any fruit juice, but tropical juices like passionfruit are particularly good. 

Fresh Passion Fruit ready to go into this cocktail

Since passion fruit is native to Brazil and widely available at markets, it is the mixer of choice for caipirinha (after the standard lime juice). Mixed with sugar and strong cachaca, it makes for a beautiful and refreshing summer drink.

Luckily, it is not as difficult as it once was to find cachaca at your local liquor store. There are several great entry-level brands of cachaca to choose from, each with its own distinct flavor and price point. Most large liquor stores now carry at least one version of cachaca. It is also available online, where you can even purchase a handy caipirinha kit. 

In a pinch, you can use white rum. But it will not, technically, be a caipirinha anymore. It will be a caipirissima

Passion Fruit Caipirinha Recipe

Yield: about five 4-oz drinks

Ingredients:

8 fl oz white or silver cachaca

2 oz white sugar*

4 limes 

8 oz passion fruit juice (fresh or shelved)

Directions:

  1. Roll 3 of your limes back and forth a few times before cutting them into wedges. This helps the juice concentrate in the center. 
  2. Place the lime wedges and all of the sugar in a pitcher and muddle until the juice is released and the sugar is dissolved. Remove juiced limes.
  3. Pour the passion fruit juice and cachaca into the pitcher and stir to combine.
  4. Cut the last lime into slices and garnish 4-5 glasses filled with ice. Pour the caipirinha mixture over the ice and serve. If you are using fresh passion fruit, you can add the fruit itself as a garnish as well.

*You can adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet you like your drink. Also keep in mind that if you are using boxed passion fruit juice, it may already contain some amounts of sugar. 

Caipirinhas at Texas de Brazil

A chilled, refreshing caipirinha is the perfect complement to a delicious meal at Texas de Brazil. Visit one of our 50+ locations to try our signature cocktails and incomparable churrasco-style meats.

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