Brazilian Barbecue Series – Rump Cap Barbecue Step-by-Step

Brazilian Barbecue Series – Rump Cap Barbecue Step-by-Step

As soon as the weather got warmer, more precisely in the beginning of spring an Australian friend of mine who is a fan of my website (thanks Pete!) asked me to publish a barbecue recipe. I thought it was a great idea but it took me a couple of months to decide what I was going to make. After watching a video on how to prepare the perfect mouth-watering Brazil’s rump cap barbecue I immediately got inspired! Starting with the rump cap, in the next few weeks I will be posting barbecue-related recipes, including refreshing salads, sides and desserts, all inspired by Brazil’s world famous barbecuing style and my own family recipes.

Rump cap or top sirloin cap is a prime beef cut very popular in Brazil  known as picanha (pea-kan-yah). When cooked appropriately (rare or medium rare) this cut is incredibly tender, juicy and tasty. Because Brazilian beef cuts are different from Australian ones, rump cap is not a cut you will find easily at supermarkets – although I already saw them in large supermarkets in Brisbane. The best way is to ask your butcher to slice it for you. In Hobart I buy mine at West Hobart Gourmet Meats. Just show the chart below and explain that picanha (cut no. 8 – image source is the capping meat over the rump/top silverside and let them know they have to keep 1cm of fat layer. Notice the fat is extremely important as it enhances the flavour of the meat. Some Brazilians are so crazy about picanha that they even eat the fat!


In order to have the authentic picanha cut only, you will have to cut the excess beef at home or ask your butcher to do it. This is how it’s done. From the narrower part count the three veins. You can easily locate the veins, just squeeze the beef with your fingers and a little blood will come out as per pictures below. Cut the beef exactly on the third vein, the excess beef can be frozen and used in other dishes. The picanha cut weighs usually no more than 1.1kg.

First vein                                                                                            Second vein                                                                                 
Picanha First Vein                                  Picanha Second Vein

Third vein

Picanha Third Vein

Picanha is commonly done sliced in thick steaks or whole over the barbecue. Today I will show you how to barbecue the whole cut.  First, light and heat the charcoal as per your barbecue instructions. Second, using a sharp knife score the meat in angles taking care not to cut through the meat, then season with rock salt all over. Set aside for 5 minutes to absorb the salt:

Beautiful marbled Australian beef  (rump cap cut)

Picanha salted and scored II

Next the excess salt is removed and the meat is put fat up straight into the barbecue. The cooking time will vary depending on the type of your barbecue and how you like your meat (blue, rare, medium rare, medium, etc). For medium-rare results, the average cut of 1 kg takes approximately 25-30 minutes using a portable charcoal barbecue (American-style) or leave it until the fat swells. Next turn the fat down and barbecue for a further 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

How to prepare ‘picanha’ , first 30 minutes fat side up

Picanha in the barbecue I

Barbecued picanha – ready to serve

Picanha in the barbecue II


Now for the accompaniments. 99.9% of Brazilian barbecues will have a crumb dish made with cassava flour, a couple of garden salads, a potato salad and plenty of mini Brazilian rolls which are called over there French rolls! Even though they are called ‘French’, they are purely Brazilian and very different from the French baguettes. These rolls are quite crunchy on the outside and super soft on the inside, perfect to have with some potato salad, a good smoky sausage or sliced barbecued steaks. I often hear Brazilians living overseas complaining they can’t find anything similar to the old (Brazilian) French rolls! Anyway, just have white shell rolls instead, that is probably the closest one can get outside Brazil. The green salad is a recipe of mine using local seasonal ingredients but feel free to have your favourite garden or green salad with this Brazilian barbecue. The salad is compulsory and it makes the meal lighter and more balanced. One of the most common desserts served after a Brazilian barbecue is called camelo which is a whole spicy and smoky barbecued pineapple. Camelo is so simple yet divine, serve it with a good-quality vanilla ice-cream for an extra pleasure. Words cannot describe how good this dish is.

This is the perfect summer feast for Australians and barbecue lovers: it’s full of flavour, colours, vegetables, a crumb for a Brazilian touch, all wrapped up with a smoky pineapple and ice-cream. Perhaps some beer too? I can’t think of a way to make a barbecue lover feel happier than this! Oh, yes I know, a caipirinha lime cocktail as an appetiser can also add some fun to your backyard!

Finally I can’t finish this post without talking about music. No Brazilian barbecue is complete without samba or MPB (popular Brazilian music). As a suggestion to your barbecue here are a couple of songs by two of my favourite singers, legend Elza Soares and Céu on Spotify. Enjoy the wonderful sunny days (or winter days if you are in the Northern Hemisphere)! More barbecue recipes coming soon.

Elza Soares – O Pato

Céu – Samba na Sola

Tips for a hassle-free and enjoyable barbecue:

Order or buy the toasted cassava flour and cachaça in advance – online or from South American grocers.

Two days ahead:

  • Print the list of ingredients above and check to see what ingredients you already got in your cupboard and fridge.
  • Go shopping for all ingredients you don’t have including the meat and drinks, except the rolls.
  • If necessary, include charcoal, firelighter, paper plates, cups and serviettes in your shopping list.
  • Make sure you have plenty of filled ice-trays in the freezer or include a bag of ice in your shopping list.
  • Place the drinks in the fridge.

One day ahead:

  • Prepare the mayonnaise dressing as per instruction item no. 2 and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Cook the potatoes, carrot and snow peas and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Prepare the bacon crumb and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Heat it up in the microwave for a few minutes before serving or serve it at room temperature.
  • Set aside all the cutlery, crockery, knives, boards and glasses.

Buy the white rolls preferably on the day you are making the barbecue so they are nice and fresh


Potato and Carrot Salad

4 large all-purpose potatoes

1 large carrot, peeled

2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

Mayonnaise Dressing:

3 egg yolks

1 tbs lime juice

1 tbs Dijon mustard

200ml canola or vegetable oil

Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste

Speck Crumb

3 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 long red chillies, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

200g naturally smoked speck, rindless, finely chopped

2 cups (350g) of toasted cassava flour*

1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped

Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste

Green Summer Salad with Caramelised Walnuts

Caramelised Walnuts:

1 1/2 tbs brown sugar

1 tbs honey

Pinch salt

150g walnut halves

Green Salad:

150g snow peas, trimmed

1 green capsicum, julienned

1 small cucumber, sliced

1 head baby cos lettuce, leaves picked

1/2 bunch basil, leaves picked

1/4 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked

1/2 bunch parsley, leaves picked


1 tbs Dijon mustard

2 tbs red wine vinegar

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground salt and black pepper to taste

Barbecued Rump Cap

2 whole rump caps, 1cm fat intact (about 1-1.1kg each)**

Rock salt

White Shell Rolls, to serve

Spicy Barbecued Pineapple  (‘Camelo’)

2 small pineapples (about 1kg each), peeled

2 tbs cachaça*** (or dark rum)

Ground cinnamon to sprinkle

Good quality vanilla ice-cream, to serve

*Available from South American grocers or online

**Refer to step-by-step images above

***Available from large liquor stores or online



1. For the Potato and Carrot Salad, place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil over high heat. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for 10 minutes. Add the carrot and cook the vegetables for a further 5 minutes or until potatoes and carrot are just cooked through, taking care not to overcook them. Drain and place in the fridge to cool. Peel the potatoes. Roughly chop the potatoes and carrot.

2. For the mayonnaise dressing, place the yolks, juice, mustard in a food processor or blender and process for a few minutes until all the ingredients are light and creamy. With the motor running gradually add the oil until the mixture thickens and gets pale. Season to taste. Keep it in an airtight container the fridge until ready to use. Just before serving stir in 100ml of milk to loosen it up and toss with potatoes, carrots and spring onions (scallions).

3. For the Speck Crumb, in a medium frying pan heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the onion, stirring for 5 minutes or until soft.  Add the speck and stir for 5 minutes or until crispy. Stir in chillies and garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Pour in the cassava flour and stir to combine. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

4. For the Green Summer Salad, in a small frying pan heat the brown sugar, honey, salt over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes stirring continuously until the mixture is syrupy. Add walnut halves and gently toss through the caramel. Remove the walnuts and place in a single layer onto baking paper to cool. Cook the snow peas in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and place in a bowl with iced water for a few minutes before draining again. Mix all the vegetables in a bowl. For the dressing, whisk all ingredients and pour over the salad just before serving. Garnish with walnuts.

5. For the Rump Cap, pre-heat your charcoal barbecue. Score the fat in angles taking care not to cut through the meat. Season the beef with rock salt on both sides, put them onto a plate and leave them to rest for 5 minutes so the salt is absorbed. Remove excess salt and barbecue the cuts fat side up for approximately 30 minutes (time varies depending on your barbecue) or until fat swells and changes colour slightly. Turn fat down and barbecue for a further 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 15 minutes. Remove foil, slice and serve immediately.

6. For the Barbecued Pineapple, brush the pineapples with cachaça (or rum) and sprinkle with cinnamon all over. Place in the barbecue and cook for about 20 minutes. Turn and cook for further 20 minutes or until caramelised. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Serves: 8




Receita em Português

Série Churrasco Brasileiro: Picanha Assada na Brasa Passo a Passo

Dicas para organizar seu churrasco

Dois dias antes:

  • Imprima a lista de ingredientes acima e confira para ver quais os ingredientes que você já tem na sua despensa e geladeira
  • Vá às compras para adquirir todos os ingredientes que você não tem, incluindo a carne e bebidas, com exceção dos pães.
  • Certifique-se que você tem bastante gelo no congelador ou incluia um saco de gelo em sua lista de compras.
  • Se necessário, inclua guarda-napos de papel, pratos e copos descartáveis e carvão na sua lista de compras.
  • Coloque as bebidas na geladeira.

Um dia antes:

  • Prepare o molho de maionese conforme item 2 das instruções. Armazene em um recipiente hermético na geladeira.
  • Cozinhe as batatas, cenouras e ervilhas tortas e armazene na geladeira.
  • Prepare a farofa de bacon e guarde em um recipiente fechado na geladeira. Aqueça no microondas por alguns minutos antes de servir ou sirva à temperatura ambiente.
  • Separe as louças, talheres, espetos e tábuas.

De preferência deixe para comprar o pão no dia do churrasco


Maionese de Batata e Cenoura

4 batatas grandes

1 cenoura grande , descascada

2 cebolinhas, picadas

Molho de Maionese:

3 gemas

1 colher de sopa de suco de limão

1 colher de sopa de mostarda Dijon

200ml de óleo de canola ou vegetal

Sal e pimenta moída na hora, a gosto

Farofa de Bacon

3 colheres de sopa de azeite de oliva extra-virgem

2 cebolas médias, picadas bem miudinhas

2 pimentas vermelhas, picadinhas

3 dentes de alho amassados

200g bacon sem pele, picado

2 xícaras (350g) de farinha de mandioca torrada

1/2 ramo de salsa picadinha

Sal e pimenta do reino a gosto

Salada Verde de Verão  com Nozes Caramelizadas

Nozes Caramelizadas:

1 colher de sopa de açúcar mascavo

1 colher de sopa de mel

pitada de sal

150g de nozes

Salada Verde:

150g ervilha torta, sem fio

1 pimentão verde, juliana

1 pepino pequeno, fatiado

1 cabeça de alface, folhas separadas

1/2 maço de manjericão, folhas separadas

1/4 maço de hortelã fresca, folhas separadas

1/2 ramo de salsa, folhas separadas


1 colher de sopa de mostarda Dijon

2 colheres de sopa de vinagre de vinho tinto

3 colheres de sopa de azeite de oliva extra-virgem

Sal e pimenta do reino a gosto

Picanha Assada

2 peças de picanha ( cerca 1-1.1kg cada) **

Sal grosso

Pão francês, para servir

Camelo – Abacaxi Assado na Churrasqueira

2 abacaxis pequenos (cerca de 1 kg cada), descascados

2 colheres de sopa de cachaça

Canela em pó para polvilhar

Sorvete de baunilha de boa qualidade, para servir

** Verifique as imagens acima


1. Para a maionese, coloque as batatas em uma panela média, cubra com bastante água e deixe ferver em fogo alto. Tampe a panela , reduza o fogo para médio e cozinhe as batatas por 10 minutos. Adicione a cenoura e cozinhe os legumes por mais 5 minutos ou até que as batatas e cenoura estejam cozidas, tomando cuidado para não cozinhar demais. Escorra e coloque na geladeira para esfriar. Descasque as batatas. Pique grosseiramente as batatas e cenoura.

2. Para o molho de maionese, coloque as gemas , o suco de limão, a mostarda em um processador de alimentos ou liquidificador e bata por alguns minutos até que a mistura fique cremosa. Com o motor em funcionamento gradualmente adicione o óleo até que a mistura engrosse e fique clarinha. Tempere a gosto com sal e pimenta. Mantenha-o em um recipiente hermético na geladeira até a hora de usar. Antes de servir misture com 100ml de leite para soltar. Misture o molho com as batatas , cenouras e cebolinha pouco antes de servir .

3. Para a farofa, em uma frigideira média aqueça o azeite em fogo médio e frite a cebola mexendo por 5 minutos ou até ficar macia. Adicione o bacon e mexa por 5 minutos ou até que fiquem crocantes. Adicione a pimenta e o alho e frite por mais 2 minutos. Despeje a farinha de mandioca e misture. Misture a salsa e tempere com sal e pimenta. Sirva a farofa morna ou em temperatura ambiente.

4. Para a salada, em uma frigideira pequena aqueça o açúcar mascavo , o mel , o sal  e cozinhe em fogo médio por 3 minutos, mexendo continuamente até que o açúcar dissolva e comece a caramelizar. Adicione as nozes e misture delicadamente. Retire as nozes e coloque em uma única camada sobre papel manteiga para esfriar. Cozinhe as ervilhas tortas em água fervente por 2 minutos, escorra e coloque em uma tigela com água gelada por alguns minutos antes de drenar novamente. Misture todos os legumes em uma tigela. Para o molho, misture todos os ingredientes e despeje sobre a salada antes de servir. Decore com nozes.

5. Para picanha, acenda o carvão na sua churrasqueira. Usando uma faca bem afiada, faça cortes diagonais e superficiais na gordura, cuidando para não cortar a carne. Tempere a carne com sal grosso dos dois lados , coloque em um prato e deixe descansar por 5 minutos até que o sal seja absorvido . Retire o excesso de sal e coloque para assar na churrasqueira em uma altura de 40cm da brasa com a gordura para cima por 40-45 minutos (churrasqueira brasileira)  ou até que a gordura inche e mude de cor ligeiramente. Vire a carne com a gordura para baixo e asse por mais 15 minutos . Transfira para um prato, cubra com papel alumínio (sem apertar) e deixe descansar por 15 minutos. Retire o papel, fatie e sirva imediatamente.

6. Para o camelo, pincele o abacaxi com cachaça e polvilhe com canela. Espete e asse por cerca de 20 minutos, vire do lado oposto e asse por mais 20 minutos ou até que caremelize completamente. Sirva com sorvete de baunilha.

Serve: 8


  • Brett Anderson

    The rump cap looks delicious. Is there an optimum thickness to slice the piranha??