You’ll be amazed at how simple it is to cook or meal prep a delicious weeknight dinner once you’ve learned how to sous vide picanha steak!
One of the best features of a sous vide machine is the ability to cook beef. It’s perfectly tender, juicy, and flavorful. You’ll never have to thaw a frozen steak again!
Sous vide steak is a handy recipe to have on hand. Have any new ones? Try our recipe for Sous Vide Bone-in Ribeye.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS?
- Cooking is mostly hands-off thanks to the sous vide. To get that beautiful crisp exterior, simply sear the picanha at the end.
- Picanha is full of flavor, and you’ll appreciate how affordable it is.
- It’s the ideal steak to prepare ahead of time. Add it to your sous vide, go do some errands or work, and it will be ready in six hours.
WHAT IS PICANHA?
Picanha, a popular cut of beef in Brazil, is an extremely flavorful cut of beef with a thick layer of fat on top called a fat cap.
While picanha is not a common cut in the grocery store, you can most likely find it at the butcher.
Picanha is a cut of beef from the top of the rump, also known as rump cover, rump cap, sirloin cap, or culotte steak. Because it is not a commonly used muscle, the picanha cut is quite tender.
WHAT IS SOUS VIDE?
Sous vide is essentially a method of cooking that employs an immersion circulator.
This immersion circulator circulates water in a temperature-controlled water bath at a specific temperature to ensure that your food is perfectly cooked every time.
Because the temperature does not change and your meat (or dessert, vegetables, etc.) remains at the same temperature, the risk of overcooking is greatly reduced.
You won’t believe how few ingredients are required for this sous vide picanha recipe!
- Picanha — You want a two to three-pound cut. Check to see if it still has a fat cap on it.
- Lime — To bring out the flavors of the picanha, we’re making a simple lime juice dipping sauce with lime.
- Salt and pepper — A tried-and-true combination for bringing out the flavors in anything.
CUT YOUR PICANHA INTO STEAKS
Picanha should be cut into 1.5/2 inch steaks. You want thicker steaks for sous vide cooking so you can sear them without overcooking the inside. Make sure to cut them perpendicular to the grain.
You cut them with the grain so that when they are served, the final cut by the person eating the steak will be across the grain. This will ensure that the steak is tender when served.
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS
- For rare to medium rare, heat a sous vide water bath to 131F degrees (recommended). Cook at 134-140°F for medium, and 145°F for medium well.
- Olive oil and salt should be rubbed into the picanha.
- Put everything in a bag and use a vacuum sealer to get rid of all the air. To remove the air, you can also use the water displacement method with a ziplock freezer bag (see below for water displacement method instructions).
- In a water bath, cook for 6 hours.
- Remove from the oven and immediately immerse in an ice bath for 5-10 minutes to stop the cooking.
- Over high heat, heat a cast iron skillet, griddle, or grill until smoking.
- Sear the picanha for about 1-2 minutes, fat side down (until fat is rendered and browned).
- Cook for another 45-60 seconds on the other side to brown.
- Remove from the pan, slice, and serve with the chimichurri sauce or lime juice mixture.
TIME AND TEMPERATURE FOR SOUS VIDE PICANHA
But now comes the difficult part: time and temperature. I worked hard to get myself in the mood to cook it.
I did a lot of research, polled all of my sous vide friends, and thought about all of the red meat cooks I’ve done.
I eventually settled on 131 degrees F for 6 hours for my picanha, and it was perfect.
Why the number 131? Normally, I like my steaks at 129 degrees Fahrenheit, but I really wanted the fat cap to render.
Not to mention that for long cooks like this, it’s best to go over the 130-degree mark to pasteurize the meat.
Why six hours? This is where I spent the most time deliberating. Many people believe that two hours is sufficient.
However, this is a very thick cut with a massive fat cap, and two of my favorite sous vide chefs, Cole Wagoner and Erika Turk of Food and Frenchies, recommend a 6-8 hour cook. And I wouldn’t cut it any shorter.
PACKAGING PICANHA FOR THE SOUS VIDE
Putting ingredients in an airtight bag or container is an important part of sous vide cooking. This can be accomplished through the use of either vacuum sealing or the water displacement method.
A vacuum sealer uses a vacuum to remove all of the air and seal the contents of a plastic bag. Keeping the bag airtight prevents it from floating, which can lead to uneven cooking and bacteria contamination.
WHAT IS THE WATER DISPLACEMENT METHOD?
The displacement method involves slowly immersing a ziplock bag in water and pushing the air out of the bag’s top (the bag should be slightly open at the top to allow air to escape).
Clip the bag to the side with a clip (I use binder clips) to keep it from floating and letting air and/or water inside.
HOW TO REHEAT PICANHA?
This picanha steak can be reheated in the microwave, but be careful not to overcook it. Microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each, until barely warmed.
You can also heat a water bath to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and place the steak (in a freezer bag) in it for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
I don’t like reheating meat in the microwave, so this is the best way to reheat it.
- Picanha steak can also be sliced into strips and skewered for grilling like traditional picanha.
- For the best results, I recommend cooking at 131F degrees.
- Serve with my Chimichurri Sauce if desired.
- To avoid overcooking while searing, use an ice bath to cool the beef after cooking and before searing.
- Sear the fat side first to render the fat.
- Cook the beef to a temperature of no less than 131°F. To meet food safety standards, beef should be cooked at 130F degrees for cook times longer than 2 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Picanha is not a tender piece of meat, so don’t overcook it. There isn’t much fat between the muscle fibers. To ensure tenderness, cook this to rare or medium rare. Plus, fat adds flavor, so rather than cutting it off, cook it and let it seep into the beef.
Unlike most traditional cooking methods, sous vide food is cooked at the temperature desired for the final product. Depending on the food, this is usually between 120°F (48.9°C) and 185°F (85°C). There are several types of food, but I will concentrate on meat in this lesson.
Picanha is a popular beef cut in Brazil. In the United States, it is known as the rump cover or rump cap. The larger side is known as the tri tip, and the smaller side is known as the Brazilian picanha.
Picanha beef is derived from an area on the rump of the cow above a fat cap. Picanha is also known as rump cap or sirloin cap in the United States.