What is Picanha?
I live in Brazil and have done on and off for the past 20 years.
One of the delights of Brazilian life is the ‘rodizio;’ a dining style pretty much unique to Brazil. I have never heard of it elsewhere unless the idea has been imported by a Brazilian emigrant.
Rodizio doesn’t have a translation, you pay a set price and participate. Salad bar and side dishes are included, but you pay extra for the beer (or your tipple) and dessert. The waiters continually bring meat from the churrasqueiro (BBQ) and slice it off the huge skewer directly on to your plate. This repeats until you are replete. In fact the tendency to waddle as you leave a rodizio is endemic; when the waiter brings along another skewer of delicious meat, it’s so hard to say “No.”
Traditionally the best meat at a rodizio is picanha.
Now all this leads me to question. What part of the cow (okay steer) is picanha? You see if you look up picanha in the dictionary, you won’t find it. Picanha is a cut that you won’t find in a butchers oustide South America, unless one happens to have a Brazilian açougueiro (butcher). Brazilians have different cuts. Picanha is actually the rump cover, a part of the top sirloin. In America and England they cut the layer of fat off, but here that layer of fat is the trademark of picanha. Sliced off the spit in almost paper thin slices, rare to the point of bloody, it melts in your mouth.
Copied from my blog Life is a Labyrinth
If you want more information on this wonderful cut of beef check out the post (in English) on Home Sweet Floripa