The “churrasco” is a Brazilian experience where everyone gathers around a grill, holding cold, sweaty drinks and biting into delicious and succulent bites of meats. There’s often chicken or pork at a churrasco and sometimes even grilled cheese but there is always beef of some sort. The majority of Brazilians are carnivores and a big portion will say that beef is their favorite type of meat.
The favorite cut by far is the Picanha also known as rump cover, delicious noble cut of meat. Picanha is shaped like a triangle with a thick layer of fat that covers this meat. By grilling, this layer of fat moistens and flavors the meat.
Picanha is usually served with the fat attached, and although most people cut the fat away, some consider it the jewel in the crown, and eat it alongside the lean center cut.
In typical churrasco style, picanha is simply grilled, seasoned only by salt. However, salting a picanha or other cut of meat for grilling is done in a unique way in Brazil. The salt used is very coarse rock salt, and it’s applied very liberally to both sides of the picanha before it goes on the grill.
This enormous quantity of salt doesn’t over-salt the meat; it forms a crust during cooking process which keeps the meat inside juicy and tender. When serving the salt crust is removed and the meat thinly sliced
Picanha is best served with little or no dressings as the flavors are already accented by the salt.
The great news is that local butchers and even some supermarkets are already offering Picanha in Australia due to high demand of South Americans.
The second best and not less flavorful cut of beef are the back ribs (known as costela in Portuguese). Back ribs is a highly desired cut of beef, and is consequently a quite expensive cuts following the Picanha’s price.
If being grilled, back ribs must be allowed to cook until well done, since rare or medium-cooked ribs are not tender at all and, though flavorful, can be too chewy to enjoy. It’s the long cooking that tenderizes the meat.
Alternatively, back ribs can be cooked in the oven and there benefit from the presence of moisture to help them become tender. Or the ribs can be roasted covered, which allows the trapped steam to aid in the tenderizing process. Either technique will result in tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
To sum up i have shared the link below where Hellman’s Explored one of the traditional farms in south of Brazil presented by Christian Stevenson “DJBBQ” and gastronomy critic Giles Coren giving a little inside of how barbecue is appreciated in the cow farms and also a bit of the culture of fire cooked meats by the Gauchos.
By the way this little cutie on the picture is me about 30 years ago.