Ask an Argentinian or Brazilian to recommend their favourite cut of beef and there’s a good chance they’ll choose picanha. Most commonly it’s barbequed or grilled, and is a core churrascaria menu item. With it’s thick layer of fat comes lots of flavour, and it’s tender too.
Yet this prized South American cut is one we haven’t really cottoned on to in the UK. We call it the rump cap but it’s seldom offered as a distinct cut; more often the rump is simply sold whole. It’s not completely unheard of in Europe though – in the region that once formed the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, the rump cap is boiled in broth and served with horseradish, a traditional dish called Tafelspitz.
When invited to review some samples by Farmison, I asked for some picanha steaks to be included in the mix.
Farmison was set up by two restaurateurs, John Pallagi and Lee Simmonds, who wanted to make quality British produce from small specialist suppliers more readily available to the regular consumer. For customers, it means being able to select items from a range of suppliers and have them delivered in a single parcel. I really like being able to shop in the online store, browsing and selecting by meat and then cut; then on each product page, the individual farmers are clearly listed (alongside information on breed and maturation), allowing me to choose which farmer’s produce I buy.
My picanha steaks were from Highland breed cattle, produced by Snowdrop Villa Farm in Cumbria.
Although I initially considered roasting, I really wasn’t confident on timings, so I decided to fry them, the same as I usually do with steak. Alongside, we enjoyed roast potatoes, baby spinach and a port and stilton cream sauce.
2 x 250 gram picanha steaks
Vegetable oil, for cooking
Salt, to season
Note: If you can’t get picanha, substitute rump, or whichever cut you like.
Put a heavy-bottomed pan on the hob to heat.
Pour a little vegetable oil into your hands and rub all over the steaks, making sure they are nicely oiled all over.
When the pan is really hot, sprinkle a little salt over the steaks and put them straight into the pan, fat side down.
Don’t move the steaks around, just leave them where they are.
Because of the thick layer of fat, the oil will probably spit so pop a lid on if need be, but offset it on the pan so that the steam can still escape.
Once the steaks are well cooked on the first side, turn them over and again, avoid the temptation to move them around.
Giving exact timings is difficult, as it depends on the thickness of your steaks, the exact temperature of your pan and even the cut of beef itself. Ours had several minutes on the first side and about half that on the second side, for medium rare. I always wing it, using the finger test and feeling the meat to gauge when it’s ready. It always works for me.
When cooked, set the steaks aside to rest for about 10 minutes, during which time, make your sauce.
Port & Stilton Cream Sauce
Approximately 75 ml port
Approximately 100 grams Stilton, diced or crumbled
Approximately 150 ml double cream
Note: You can substitute any blue cheese of your choice.
Pour any excess oil out of the pan but don’t clean.
Pour the port into the hot pan and quickly stir to incorporate the caramelised, meaty juices. Cook on high heat for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring constantly, until the port has reduced and become a little syrupy.
Reduce the heat and stir in the double cream.
Once the cream has warmed through, add the blue cheese and continue to stir until the cheese has completely melted into the sauce.
Once the steaks have rested, serve with your choice of vegetables and the delicious port and stilton cream sauce.
So, how were the steaks? Absolutely delicious, the tastiest we’ve had for a while. I’d thoroughly recommend them and at approximately £11 for 2 (current price, prices may change), they’re a lovely treat.
Here’s a little snapshot from my phone camera giving a glimpse of the inside.
Another recipe I made with some of my Farmison delivery was this delicious butter, sage and lemon roast chicken.
With thanks to Farmison for the selection of samples.