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Picanha: The Best Cut of Steak?

Picanha originated in Brazil, where it is considered the best cut of beef and is the signature dish at churrascarias. While still lesser known in the States, picanha has nonetheless made its way into specialty restaurants via the Brazilian steakhouse, where it is served in traditional “gaucho” style and carved directly from a long roasting spit. Once tasted, most can agree that this is a uniquely tender and flavorful cut of beef. What is it that makes picanha so good, and how is it different from other similar cuts of meat? 

What is Picanha in English?

The exact translation of picanha to English is complicated, since the origin of the word itself is not known. One theory suggests it is derived from the name of a shepherding pole used in parts of Spain and Portugal. This pole was called a picana, and might have been used to nudge the cattle along. “Picar” is also a verb in Spanish and Portuguese that can mean “chop,” which seems appropriate.   

At any rate, the name of this cut of meat in the US is “sirloin cap” or “rump cap.” You will generally not find it in grocery stores, since American butchers tend to break this part of the cow down into smaller cuts we call rounds, loins, etc. 

In Brazil, the picanha/rump cap is removed and sold intact with its thick layer of fat attached. This fat is partially what gives it such a unique and tender flavor. 

What Does Picanha Taste Like?

When prepared properly, picanha has a buttery texture and lean, beefy flavor. It is most comparable to sirloin, which is an area just in front of the rump cap (where picanha comes from). Both cuts have very little fat within the meat, which means they must be properly cooked to avoid toughness. 

Seasoning Picanha

Picanha needs very little help in bringing out its natural flavor. Our classic picanha at Texas de Brazil, for example, is seasoned with just rock salt and fresh black pepper. Quick and high heat creates a savory crust while keeping the inside a juicy medium rare.

Spicy Picanha

Looking for a little something extra in your picanha steak? Try a spicy version! Texas de Brazil is happy to announce that Spicy Picanha is now on our menu all year long! Smothered in a savory blend of spices, this punched up version of picanha is smoky, spicy, and delicious. 

More great news: you can now purchase our signature spicy rub online to add amazing flavor to your at-home dishes. 

Where to Buy Picanha

Again, you might not have much luck finding picanha in mainstream US grocery stores. Your best bet is to purchase your picanha online. Texas de Brazil’s online butcher shop allows you to select premium cuts of meat, including picanha, a la carte or in specially curated grill packages. 

What to Eat With Picanha?

Picanha is one of the most delicious cuts of beef you will ever try. Pair it with steakhouse favorites like garlic mashed potatoes, roast vegetables, or sauteed mushrooms. Don’t forget the Brazilian cheese bread

Brazilian Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)

brazilian carrot cake with ganache topping

Autumn is upon us, and the craving for pumpkin-spice everything has taken a firm hold on us Americans. We seem to put cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg in just about everything, from coffee drinks to quick breads. In some cases, however, too much spice can distract from the elegance of a primary ingredient. Exhibit A: Brazilian carrot cake. Unlike its American counterpart, this cake relies solely on the moist, sweet flavor of fresh carrots and a beautiful ganache topping to take it to the next level. 

American Carrot Cake vs Brazilian Carrot Cake

American carrot cake tends to be heavily spiced, uses grated carrots, and incorporates a cream cheese or royal icing topping. It is dense and has a chewy, moist texture. In some cases, we even put raisins or nuts in the mix for added texture and sweetness.

Brazilian carrot cake, on the other hand, leaves out the spices and blends all the ingredients together for a smooth batter that is fluffier, but still moist. Instead of cream cheese, it is topped with a silky chocolate ganache. Or, in some cases, it is crowned with a thicker, Brigadeiro-like frosting made from condensed milk and plenty of cocoa powder. 

Both cakes, in our opinion, are delicious. But there is something unique and special about the Brazilian version. Without the warming spices, the carrots take center stage and lend not only a beautiful orange color, but a fresh, earthy taste as well. 

What Pan to Use for Carrot Cake?

You can use any pan you like, but keep in mind that cooking times will vary. A bundt pan makes for a nice presentation, but it can be more challenging to remove it intact if you are a beginner. We like a springform pan, since it is basically fool-proof and bakes a little faster. 

You can easily use this recipe in a muffin tin as well. Again, cooking time will change according to which type of pan you use. To ensure doneness, place a thin knife or toothpick in the center of the batter. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Try to avoid over-baking, as the batter can become dry and crumbly if it is overdone. 

Do I Have to Blend My Brazilian Carrot Cake?

If you prefer the chewy texture of a traditional American cake, feel free to leave the ingredients unblended. The overall cake will be somewhat denser, but the flavors will be just as good. Just make sure to finely grate your carrots so that they are evenly dispersed throughout the batter (as opposed to sinking to the bottom). 

Butter vs Oil in Cakes

Our carrot cake, like the American version, calls for a good amount of vegetable oil. Since oil remains liquid at room temperature, a cake with oil will (in theory) be more moist. That being said, you can effectively substitute butter in place of oil. 

If using butter for your Brazilian carrot cake, use the same volume of butter you would oil and melt it before use. Be sure to let the melted butter cool a little before mixing it with your eggs, or temper the batter before fully mixing. Interestingly, you may find the texture of your cake to be more “cakey” and less “bready” when using butter in place of oil. 

Brazilian Carrot Cake (Bolo de Cenoura)


For the cake:

1.5 cups of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1.5 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

For the ganache:

8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (bars or chocolate chips)
1 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease your cake pan with non-stick spray or a layer of butter and flour.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. In a blender, put your carrots, oil, eggs, and sugar. Blend until you have a smooth consistency.
  5. Pour the blended ingredients into the dry flour and salt mixture. Mix using a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Try not to over-mix.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and put on the center rack in the oven
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the batter comes out clean (about 45 minutes for a springform pan).
  8. Let the cake cool completely for about one hour. Then you can make your ganache.
  9. Roughly chop your chocolate (not necessary if using chips) and put it into a heat safe bowl. 
  10. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Try not to boil or scald the milk. 
  11. Pour the heated cream over your chocolate and stir gently and consistently until all of the chocolate has melted and you have a smooth, creamy consistency.
  12. Remove your cake from the springform pan and put it on a serving platter. Drizzle your ganache in an even layer over the top. 

Serve your Brazilian carrot cake with a fresh cup of hot coffee or, for a true fall indulgence, a glass of Brazilian mulled wine (quentao de vinho). 

Give the Gift of Churrasco

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the carnivore in your life? Give the gift of delicious Brazilian churrasco from Texas de Brazil. Visit our online shop for gift cards, kitchen gadgets, wines, and our premium grill packages for your favorite cuts of meat delivered right to your door.


Shrimp Risotto (Risotto de Camarao)


Italian Brazilians form a large part of the country’s population, with over 60,000 individuals claiming Italian heritage in Sao Paulo alone! This means that, along with other customs, Italian food has made its way well into mainstream Brazilian cuisine. Today’s dish of shrimp risotto is heavily rooted in Italian tradition, but features a few quintessential Brazilian twists (green peas, boiled eggs, and green olives). 

One of the main differences between Italian risotto and Brazilian risotto is the rice that is used. Brazilians tend to prefer their rice fluffy and separated, as opposed to sticky or creamy. As a result, most recipes for risotto call for Basmati or jasmine in place of the traditional arborio rice. Basmati, in particular, is longer and has less starch, which keeps the grains from adhering to each other when cooked. The rice can be rinsed several times to eliminate even more starch. 

Pilaf vs Risotto

This drier style of rice is probably more similar to what we, in the US, might call a “pilaf.” Despite the texture differences, however, the cooking methods are relatively similar overall. Both involve sautéing aromatics in fat or oil, toasting the grains of rice to release a nutty flavor and aroma, and finally cooking in a flavorful stock or broth (sometimes with wine).  

In pilaf, the full amount of stock is added and the pot is covered to allow the rice to absorb all the liquid. In risotto, the liquid is added slowly, one ladle-full at a time, and some liquid is allowed to remain unabsorbed in a creamy, flavorful “sauce.” 

Shrimp Risotto Substitutions

Shellfish allergy? Don’t care for shrimp? No problem! This recipe lends itself to all kinds of customization. You can just as easily substitute the protein with chicken and chicken stock, or make a vegetarian version with portobello mushrooms and vegetable stock. 

Shrimp Risotto Recipe (Risotto de Camarão) 


1.5 pounds medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
½  cup diced onions
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ cup fresh tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh or frozen sweet peas
¼ cup chopped green olives
1.5 cups Basmati rice
2 boiled eggs, chopped
3 cups fish stock
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Sauté the onions and bell peppers for 2 minutes or so, until they are softened. Then add in the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds (just until you can smell it).
  3. Add in the rice and turn the heat up to medium high. Toast the rice with the onions and garlic until it is golden and fragrant and evenly coated with oil. 
  4. Add in the tomatoes, peas, and green olives. Cover with fish stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and cover. 
  6. When the rice is nearly finished, put in your shrimp and stir. Cover the pan and cook until the shrimp are pink and tender (this only takes a few minutes).
  7. Remove the rice from the heat and stir in your chopped boiled eggs. Taste for salt and add more as needed. Finish with a grind of fresh black pepper.
  8. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley and parmesan cheese, if you like. 

More Great Brazilian Recipes to Try:


Guava Cheesecake

Brazilian Romeu e Juliete Cheesecake Recipe

guava cheesecake on white plate

Brazilian guava cheesecake is a refreshing spin on its American cousin, which typically uses cream cheese and a graham cracker crust. In Brazil, the guava cheesecake uses a dense, salty cheese known as minas gerais. It is paired with a sweet guava paste on top of a crisp, flour-based crust.

The pairing of cheese and guava paste in Brazil is known as Romeu e Juliete. The salty cheese represents Romeo, and the sweet guava is Juliet. Like the passion between Shakespeare’s tragic lovers, savory and sweet are at their pinnacle in this surprising dish. 

Because minas gerais is not readily available in the US, we will be substituting it with another mild-tasting cheese: Mexican queso blanco. You may also substitute it with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, or Brazilian cream cheese.

The guava paste, known as goiabada in Brazil, can be found at most Latin markets or purchased online. When canned, it has a consistency similar to American jellied cranberry sauce. The taste is much less tart, however, with many likening its flavor to a blend between a pineapple and a strawberry.

Gluten Free Guava Cheesecake

Our recipe will be using a flour-based crust, but you can certainly substitute the flour with almond flour or another gluten free alternative. Just be sure to refer to the packaging for portion information. Some gluten free flours, such as coconut flour, require less volume and certain additives (like eggs) for them to work in the same manner as all purpose flour. 

Alternatively, you can simply leave out the crust entirely. Simply slice up a little fresh cheese and alternate it with slices of the sweet guava paste on a cheeseboard for a fast and delicious hors d’oeuvre. Think of it as a Brazilian caprese salad!

Graham Cracker Crust for Guava Cheesecake?

If you prefer a graham cracker crust, go ahead! Remember that the guava paste is very sweet, and the graham cracker crust will only add to the overall sweetness. That being said, a graham cracker crust is much easier and faster to make than a flour crust, so it may be the way to go if you are in a hurry!

To make a simple graham cracker crust, combine 1.5 cups of graham cracker crumbs, ⅓ cup of sugar, and 3 oz of melted butter. Press the mixture into a standard, 8-inch pie plate. Chill for an hour before filling or bake for about 8 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Can I Use Pre-Grated Cheese for Guava Cheesecake?

We don’t recommend using pre-grated or sliced cheese for this recipe, since it may contain additives (like cornstarch) that will affect the overall texture and taste of the dish. 

Guava Cheesecake Recipe (Romeu e Juliete)


For the crust:

1.5 cups all purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
1 oz sugar
⅔ cup butter (unsalted)
1 egg yolk

For the filling:

16 oz fresh queso blanco, cubed or shredded
14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
3 eggs
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
Zest of two limes

For the topping:

1 ¼ cups guava paste
⅓ cups water
1 oz cachaca or spiced rum


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all pie crust ingredients and mix using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You can also use your forks or hands to help distribute the butter evenly. Although this crust is a little less fussy than a traditional pie shell, you still want to avoid over mixing.
  3. Spread the crust mixture evenly on the bottom of a cheesecake or spring-form pan. If you have enough crust, spread a little of the mixture up the sides of the pan. 
  4. Put your queso blanco, condensed milk, eggs, vanilla, and lime zest into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  5. Pour the mixture over the crust in your springform pan. Don’t worry about filling the pan to the very top-there is no rising agent, so it shouldn’t spill over. However, you can leave about half an inch of space from the top just to be safe. 
  6. Bake your cake for about 40 minutes (until you can insert a knife and it comes out clean). Put the cake aside to cool for at least one hour. 
  7. When the cake is cool, prepare the topping. Heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Put in the guava paste and water and heat until the paste is melted and combined with the water. Then, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cachaca or spiced rum.
  8. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then pour it over the cheesecake (still in the spring-form). 
  9. Place the guava cheesecake in its pan in the refrigerator to set overnight. Then, remove it from the spring-form pan and serve with fresh lime zest and wedges for garnish. 


Give the Gift of Brazil

Give the foodie in your life the present they’ve always wanted: a hand-curated grill package from our online Butcher shop. Premium cuts of meat are delivered right to your door, including our famous picanha, chops, and Brazilian sausages. Visit our shop to find your perfect grill package today.

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