Anna Olson's Brazilian beef picanha

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Not only is Canadian beef is beloved at home, it's also a lauded commodity abroad and used in various cuisines around the world. In her newest series on Food Network Canada, Inspired, renowned chef, TV personality and cookbook author Anna Olson uses Canadian beef in various street food inspired recipes, one of which is this Brazilian beef picanha. It's a simple grilled beef dish using the top sirloin cap (also known as a coulotte) that lets the tenderness and flavour of the cut shine.

"There's simple contrast, lots of colours, freshness, and crunch that complements that good steaky flavour you get from a sirloin cut," says Olson.

Here are some advice from Olson about working with this cut and recipe:

  • If cooked whole or cut into steaks, the tapered, thinner side can cook just past medium in the same time that the thicker side cooks just below medium rare.
  • Coaxing a little bit of flaring up from the grill is actually encouraged as you cook picanha over high heat – the flames kiss the steak, creating a hint of char and melting the fat as it cooks, basting the steaks that are actually lean (little to no marbling)
  • The trick of basting the surface of the steaks with oil before salting prevents the salt from dissolving into the meat, which is why you can salt generously.  The salt on the surface helps to create a bit of a crust on the outside.
  • While I have the grill on high, I also grill thick slices of bread to serve with the picanha.  I rub the bread with a garlic clove, drizzle with oil and add a sprinkling of salt & pepper.

Fresh salad

1 to 2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 19-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped into thin strips

Toss the tomato, cucumber, red pepper, green onion and chickpeas with the oil, vinegar, garlic and basil.  Season to taste and chill until ready to serve.  



1 top sirloin cap, (about 1.5 kg)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 to 3 tbsp coarse salt

Pull the beef from the fridge about 40 minutes before cooking.  Preheat a charcoal or gas grill on high heat, 450-500 °F (232-260 °C).

Trim away the silverskin on the bottom of the picanha, and score the fat that is on the top.  Cut the picanha along the grain into 5 or 6 thick steaks.  Curve each steak into a “C” shape, with the fat on the outside of the “C” and skewer 2 to 3 steaks onto two parallel large metal skewers.  

Stir the olive oil and garlic together and brush this all over the steaks.  Sprinkle a generous amount of salt all over the steaks. Grill the picanha for (and don’t worry if it flames a little – that’s part of the authentic cooking process) 8 to 12 minutes, turning halfway through cooking (8 minutes for rare, 10 for medium-rare, 12 for medium).  Let the picanha rest for 5 minutes before removing the skewers and slicing thinly across the grain to serve with the fresh salad.    


6 to 8 servings
Prep Time:
15 minutes
Cook Time:
8 to 12 minutes