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May 15, 2007 09:16 AM

Where can I buy picanha?

Well, I know I can get it at any Brazilian BBQ, but I'm looking for the raw picanha roast, so I can cook it myself. I live in the Brockton area, so I'm not exactly anywhere near a large Brazilian population where they might have some. I assume I might be able to find something down in the Hyannis area or near Framingham at one of the Brazilian markets, but if anyone know of anywhere in the South Shore that sells it, I'd greatly appreciate it

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  1. In Brazil butchers mostly work with whole steers (or at least a full side), cutting what ever part you want and depending on the time of day -- you get what is still available. Picanha would always be bought as picanha and alcatra (underneath the picanha) as alcatra.

    Here Brazilian butchers work with primal cuts and usually get a cryovac of top sirloin butt (the name can vary, but packers sell a case of 6 pieces), which they sell steaks from as "picanha c/alcatra" which is really mostly alcatra. Most list a separate price for picanha, but are reluctant to sell it alone and you have to insist. You would certainly have to purchase the whole piece, but it sounds like you are planning to do that anyway. The butchers don't usually speak that much English, so getting the manager involved would help. A whole picanha I believe might set you back around $40, which isn't too far off what the whole primal cut sells for.

    In your neck of the woods there is a decent Brazilian population in Stoughton, Brockton, and Rockland. In Brockton brazilian store Terra Nossa, but I believe its more of a dry goods and general groceries store -- I don't think it has an "acogue." In Stoughton I found a listing for a Casa de Carnes at 22 Porter St (781-341-4414), but its not listed in any Brazilian publications (Casa de Carnes in Worcester, Somerville and I think Framingham advertise on TV, but don't recall their listing Stoughton). If you do go to Framingham -- Gol Supermarket on Waverly is probably your easiest stop (they are also in Hyannis). Market Basket sometimes has the whole primal cut, if you decide to cut it yourself.

    Are you roasting it whole in the oven? (it comes out very nicely slowly roasted with lots of brazilian coarse salt -- the salt forms a crust, which you knock off afterwards) On the spit (in this case, the whole piece might be cut in several pieces across it and put on in a shape so that you have a horsehoe of fat around the piece)? Or just want to grill something (in this case the course of least resistance might be to get the picanha c/alcatra cut into steaks to the thickness you want and then just coat them with lots of coarse salt, then knock it off with a knife before serving). Make sure you use Brazilian coarse salt, not kosher salt. BTW, top blade steaks are also excellent with coarse salt as well as marinated.

    1 Reply
    1. re: itaunas

      thanks for the info - by the way, I plan on doing this old school, roasted on skewers over charcoal and doing a mini-rodizio for my friends

      if communication is an issue, I have a few portuguese-speaking contacts in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu community that I can have tag along. In an absolute worst case scenario, I can buy picanha (and rock salt) from here: - the price seems to be about what you said I'll be paying anyway

    2. Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I was wondering if a grass-fed or local option for picanha exists. I can't even think of butchers who do whole sides who might be able to cut out the entire top sirloin with fat cap for a premium. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

      8 Replies
      1. re: DoubleMan

        DoubleMan since this post picanha has become a bit easier to buy in Boston w/o buying the whole top sirloin butt (Restaurant Depot sells a 3 pk and although they don't sell direct to consumers, its fairly easy to get access). On the flip side its also gained a lot of popularity as a cut steak and the whole piece hasn't caught on at the retail side. And incidentally its actually become a lot harder to find butchers in Brazil working with whole sides (the push to eliminate field killing and non-inspected cattle means buying meats from a "frigorifico" who prefer to work with boxed beef over sides). Sides of beef haven't caught on with artisan butchers (or restaurant chefs) in the US like pork because of the size and more equipment needed (which makes availability less too) -- its complicated to transport, not as easy to fabricate.

        There is some Australian imported grass feed beef which offers the top sirloin cap available locally retail, but its denuded and lousy overall (meat and the cutting) . Keep in mind a couple of things with grass-fed that this is a very lean cut within the muscle, so the fat cap is very important as is a well raised cow and tender muscle. Local beef farmers still need to have the kill and butchering done in a USDA facility, so the butchering instructions are given upfront and although people like CSA members get lots of cuts overall, they don't give you say in the cutting. If you buy a 1/4 you might be able to specify the cuts you want. If you go to Blood Farms (a USDA certified kill facility) armed with some cutting knowlege and are nice to them, they might also be able to arrange for you to preorder something too.

        There are definitely options for "natural" beef from national providers like Niman (they offer butts) which would generally be grain finished and probably Whole Foods I believe has some grass fed providers, but since this is not currently a popular cut in this fashion you may still have trouble ordering it. Doyle and Bailey has natural and local offerings including boxes of just coulotte, but they don't sell directly to consumers and you would be talking 6 pieces. I don't think I have access to Cambridge Packing's catalog anymore, but Brandt Beef had used to offer an untrimmed "coulotte" and overall its a cut they have tried to talk up (you asked about grass-fed and this is not that, but its very good). Cambridge does some mail order retail service, so you might be able to arrange buying a box retail. This would be my preference (I do enjoy well raised fresh grass fed beef -- particularly the smell, the colors, the fat can be really nice, but a well raised corn-fed or finished steak is a really nice luxury.).

        While the actual cut is becoming easier to find at a wholesale level, outside restaurant depot its still easier for you to buy the whole top butt (a sub-primal NAMP 184, not a primal cut despite what I said several years ago) from a major packer as you can walk into places like Puritan Beef or Lord Jeffs and walk out with one under your arm and that also stands for natural beef too but hard to walk out with one under your arm. But if you want to buy 3 picanhas, restaurant depot is an option but it is commodity beef or possibly with some industry help you maybe able to get your hands on the same thing from a better source.

        BTW, there also is some Uruguayan grass fed beef being distributed locally (when import restrictions were placed on Argentine beef a number of ranchers moved operations or opened operations in Uruguay). At least in Brazil that is good quality, but they unfortunately send cuts desireable in Brazil such as picanha there and export others to the US, so probably not an option in this case, but something to check out (I think Whole foods carried this at one point. Sysco also had a line of Uruguayan beef which raises my skepticism a bit on this).

        1. re: itaunas

          Stopped into a Brazilian butcher in Quinzy yesterday - Bistecca Meat Market. Small, sparse, spotless little shop, with a very friendly proprietress. They had a big ol' picanha, not the entire slab, not (likely) grass-fed, no fat-cap either. But more interestingly they had a nice-looking pile of sausages, one whose name I cannot recall, but it was a white sausage stuffed full of pig offal which I'll be back for next time with a cooler. Also spied some dried sausages hanging in the back processing room and picked up a link. It was on the soft side, kinda mushy actually, but really tasty, dotted with fat and the occasional red pepper.

          Nice shop, around the corner from JNJ Turo Turo.

          51 Franklin St
          Quincy, MA 02169

          1. re: Nab

            Awesome Nab you found a source for "lingüiça caseira" at that açogue -- most Brazilian butchers make their own sausage (with curing salt) with a lot of spices and ingredients. Caseira tends to be simpler and can be bracingly salty. It doesn't always hold together as well (in Brazil there are even hand cut versions), but I enjoy it more than standard sausages. I wouldn't get your hopes super high on the white sausage as it could just be chicken sausage ("linguica de frango") which can be very tasty and can include pork fat at Brazilian butchers, but its possible you found linguica cuiabana or something like that which would be a find for Boston (can be fairly white in color when made with beef).

            1. re: itaunas

              Caseira, that's it -- thanks itaunas. This was very well balanced in its spicing, and not overly salty. I really like it.

              The fresh white sausage was pork and was described to me as containing all the organ meats of a pig. Darnit, wish I could recall the name, but it was not cuiabana.

              1. re: Nab

                If it was pork innards (miudos), it would definitely not be cuiabana. When you want to buy all the innards in Brazil you often order the "fissura" of the pig (in fact, unless you buy the whole fissura its hard to get pork innards if you want to make something like sarapatel or even a tongue). In any case you got me, since its white its not chourico (common term for morcela in Brazil), not the meats usually used in the Brazilian version of cotecchino (codeguim) which is usually used in beans rather than eaten alone (also goes by the italian name mostly and there are local names), and no overall tradition of alheiras in Brazil. But its definitely interesting and probably one of a number of sausages from European immigrant traditions in Brazil.

                Update: I have wanted to bring back some of my favorite lingüiça caseira for Boston hounds and family, but unfortunately customs isn't too cool on that "do you have any food products"... "uhh, does raw cured pork sausage rolled in black pepper to keep the flies off count?" :-) So have a local source is good alternative to making your own.

                1. re: itaunas

                  itaunas, I just called over there, and according to my somewhat broken conversation with the butcher, I believe it was morcela that I saw (he acknowledged that yesterday I would have seen a white, fresh pork sausage that was morcela). That didn't seem right to me initially since the white sausage was counterintuitive to my idea of morcela, but is it possible that there's a 'white pudding' variant ?

                  1. re: Nab

                    Thanks for going to the source, yeah sounds like its morcela branca which isn't common, but is sold in Brazil. Dunno if its preferenceor it was easier to make the white version than dealing with pork blood, I'll have to ask them when in town. If I can find a version here it could be importable. In any excellent hounding as always Nab!

          2. re: itaunas

            Thanks itaunas, that's very helpful. It's great when hounds can offer such detailed knowledge.