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Smoked Picanha in the PBC

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This smoked picanha recipe uses a sirloin cap which is a somewhat lean piece of beef with a thick, buttery fat cap. It is best cooked over hot wood coals and served with a delicious chimichurri sauce.

In this write up, we are smoking the meat in the Pit Barrel Cooker but you can easily use whatever smoker you have and finish it off with some high heat from the grill or even the oven broiler if you need to.

I have included my very own homemade chimichurri sauce recipe below for your enjoyment. Be sure to let me know how you like it!

If you can’t find a picanha where you normally buy meat, ask the butcher for it or go to a local butcher shop and order a couple. They are SO worth it and I have no doubt you’ll be doing this one again and again!

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 300°F (149°C)
  • Meat Finish Temp: 130°F (54°C)
  • Recommended Wood: Mesquite
What You’ll Need
Step 1: Clean Up

Place the meat fat cap DOWN on a cutting board or other flat surface.

Using a sharp knife, remove as much of the silver skin as you can.

You can also remove any extra fat that is on the surface of the meaty side.

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Step 2: Score Fat Cap

Flip the meat over to fat cap UP.

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Using a sharp knife, cut a crosshatch pattern through the fat down to the surface of the meat.

Note: I recommend making cuts about 1-inch apart.

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These cuts help to crisp up the fat and give the seasoning a place to get down into so it can influence the flavor of the meat.

Step 3: Season Fat Cap

Place the picanha into a foil pan.

Pour about 2 TBS of Worcestershire sauce over the top to help the seasoning to stick.

Apply a generous amount of Jeff’s Texas style rub  onto the fat cap allowing it to get down into the cuts we just made.

Because my rub is so low in salt, we’ll want to also add a little extra salt to the fat cap.

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Note: I used about 1.5 TBS of rub and 1 tsp of coarse kosher salt on the fat cap.

Step 4: Season Meat Side

Flip the meat over to fat cap DOWN.

Pour about 2 TBS of Worcestershire sauce onto the meat side to help the seasoning to stick really well.

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Apply a generous coat of Jeff’s Texas style rub and an extra sprinkling of coarse kosher salt to amp up the flavor and give the meat a little dry brining.

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Note: I used about 1.5 TBS of rub and approximately 1 teaspoon of coarse kosher salt on this side.

Step 5: Fridge Time

With the meat still in the foil pan and covered with foil, place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best.

Step 6: Make Chimichurri

While the meat is in the fridge is a great time to make the chimichurri.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (roughly 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBS Jeff’s Texas style rub
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of salt (to taste)

Add everything except the salt and the greens to a small bowl and stir together.

Chop parsley and cilantro but not too fine and add it to the mix.

Tip: You can use a food processor if you’re really careful but I prefer to do a quick chop by hand using a sharp knife.

Stir well then salt to taste.

Place into the fridge for several hours to allow the flavors to come together.

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Note: remove chimichurri from fridge about 30 minutes before using. It is best served at room temperature.

Step 7: Set Up Smoker

I used the Pit Barrel Cooker for this one but you can use any other charcoal/gas grill or even a smoker as long as you cook to temperature, rather than time.

I set up the barrel for cooking according to the manufacturers directions and once it was ready to cook, I inserted the cooking grate.

I thought about hanging the meat but wanted the fat cap to face down the entire time to not only protect the meat from the direct heat but to allow the fat cap to crisp up really nice.

Step 8: Cook/Smoke

Place the meat fat cap down onto the grate of the barrel, replace the hanging rods and the lid and chill out for about an hour.

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After 1 hour, check the temperature of the meat.

We are looking for 110°F (43°C) at which point I recommend cranking up the heat to sear/crisp the fat cap

Step 9: Sear

When the center of the picanha reaches 110°F (43°C), it’s time to crack the lid a little and open up the circular air inlet at the bottom.

This is to increase the air flow through the cooker and raise the temperature to further crisp the fat cap.

Note: I could also have just removed the lid to increase the flames/heat but I prefer to do this with the lid mostly closed.

When the center of the meat reaches 130°F (54°C), it is done to a perfect medium rare and must be removed quickly from the barrel and the heat.

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Step 10: Rest and Slice

Place the finished picanha back into a foil pan covered with foil and let it rest on the counter for about 10-15 minutes.

Slice the picanha across the grain into pieces that are about ½ to ¾ inch thick.

Do not trim off the fat but encourage your guests to eat the fat, it will be delicious!

Serve with a little chimichurri on the picanha steaks and listen to the happy sounds of guests enjoying the best beef they’ve eaten in a long time.

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Using Other Smokers/Cookers

You can use another charcoal grill or even a gas grill in the same way, cooking it fat cap down.

In most other smokers the heat will be indirect. Cook at 275 to 300 °F if possible or as close to that as you can and keep an eye on the temperature.

When it reaches 110°F (43°C), remove it to a hot grill to crisp up the fat or you can place it fat cap up under an oven broiler if you have to.

Do not let the center of the meat exceed 130°F (54°C).

I have not tried placing the meat on a griddle but I figure you could also give both sides of the meat a good sear on a very hot griddle to brown the meat and crisp the fat

Print

Smoked Picanha in the PBC

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 Top Sirloin Cap or Rump Cap (Picanha)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Coarse kosher salt
  • 3 TBS Jeff’s Texas style rub

Jeff's Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (roughly 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 TBS Jeff’s Texas style rub
  • 1 pinch of salt (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Remove silver skin and extraneous fat from meaty side of picanha.
  2. Cut crosshatch pattern into fat cap with about 1-inch between each cut
  3. Place meat into foil pan for seasoning.
  4. Pour about 2 TBS of Worcestershire sauce onto fat cap followed by 1.5 TBS of Jeff's Texas style rub and 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt.
  5. Flip meat to fat cap DOWN.
  6. Once again , Pour about 2 TBS of Worcestershire sauce followed by 1.5 TBS of Jeff's Texas style rub and 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt.
  7. Place the pan of meat into the fridge for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best.
  8. Make the chimichurri while the meat is in the fridge.
  9. Set up cooker according to manufacturers instructions and when it's ready, place the meat fat cap DOWN onto the grate.
  10. Replace the bars and lid and let it cook until it reaches 110°F (43°C) in the thickest part.
  11. Crank up the heat by cracking open the lid about 1 inch and opening the air vent at the very bottom of the barrel.
  12. When the picanha reaches 130°F (54°C) in the thickest part, remove it from the cooker and let it rest under foil for 15 minutes.
  13. Slice into pieces that are ¾ inch thick and serve immediately with room temperature chimichurri sauce.

Make Chimichurri

  1. Add all chimichurri ingredients except for the salt and greens into a large bowl and stir together.
  2. Chop parsley and cilantro and add to the bowl (coarse chop is best). Stir well to combine.
  3. Salt to taste.
  4. Place chimichurri into fridge for several hours to allow the flavors to combine.

Notes

You can use another grill or smoker for this picanha but be sure to cook to temperature rather than time.

Be sure to stop the cooking process early and find a way to crisp the fat cap under super high heat.

When the meat reaches 130°F (54°C), it has reached a perfect medium rare.

Did you make this recipe?

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8 Comments

  1. We smoke or grill at least 3 times a week and I have to say this is probably my favorite cut of meat. I smoked according to Jeff’s instructions and it was unbelievable. It is half the price of a thick cut ribeye and every bit as good. Smoked on my Yoder which allowed to push up to 400 degrees for final crusting.

  2. I have done this direct on my green egg. I bring it to a really high heat of like 550 degrees then shut it down to temp of 250 to 275. Once lower temp achieved i out the the picanah on and it sears the fat cap because the grate is so hot.
    Have found the longer it test the better and critical you cut against the grain. Melts in your month. Thanks Jeff.

  3. Hey Jeff,
    Looks like a great recipe, thanks for posting. A couple of technique questions. I will be making this on a Camp Chef Winwood 24 Wifi pellet smoker (the type with the sliding grate to enable direct searing over the fire pot). Wondering whether it would be a good idea to do the initial 300 F. indirect smoking on the upper grate with a water pan underneath on the lower grate? … then when the meat hits 110 F. I will remove the water pan, slide the grate set up to sear position and sear the fat side down on the lower grate. Does this sound like a good way to go given the type of pellet smoker I have?

    1. Bill, on that smoker I’d start it off on low smoke for about 30 minutes just to kiss it with some smoke. Then crank it up to 300°F (149°C) until the meat reaches 110°F (43°C). At that point, you can open the direct heat option and let it crisp up the fat cap. I have not done this on the pellet smoker yet so I’d be happy to hear how this goes.

      I don’t generally use a water pan in my pellet smokers but if you’re getting good results with it, I say go for it.

      I’m going to be doing one of these on a pellet smoker in a few weeks and I’ll add my findings to the recipe to help out those with pellet smokers.

    1. Harlan, I have not done one of these on the pellet smokers yet but if I were doing it, I would put it on at the lowest setting or special smoke setting for about 30 minutes then crank up the heat to 300 or even 350 until it reaches 110°F (43°C) in the thickest part. Move it to a grill or over some really hot coals or even under the broiler of your oven to crisp the fat and bring it on up to finish at medium rare or 130°F (54°C).

      If your Pit Boss has a way to adjust the drip pan to allow some heat to come up directly to the meat, Then you can just make that adjustment when the meat reaches 110°F (43°C). The meat is done to a perfect medium rare at 130°F (54°C).

  4. Looking good as always! I have a Traeger, instead of moving the meat to my gas grill once it gets to 110 what do you think of me just cranking up the heat on the Traeger to around 375-400?

    1. Terry, that would definitely work but I’m not sure the fat cap would crisp up much without some direct heat on it. Does that Traeger have a way to put some direct heat on the fat cap? Some pellet smokers have a way to adjust the drip pan to allow the heat to come directly up to the meat if desired. If you have that option, it will be a better finish.