Beginner’s Guide to the Best Brazilian Cuts of Beef
As you might know, Brazilians are pretty big on their meat, maybe even more so than Americans. Meat is definitely the main ingredient at a churrascaria, which in Brazil is a place where meat is cooked in the churrasco way (the equivalent to our barbecue). At a big churrascaria there can be more than 15 different types of meat to choose from during your meal. Given the fact that churrascarias usually offer an all-you-can-eat formula, you can imagine the amounts of meat that are served there every day. Don’t worry if you also like to get your daily portion of veggies, the Brazilians do actually serve vegetables with their meat as well. Any churrascaria normally has a salad bar that offers an ample choice of cold veggies.
A Brazilian barbecue favorite is beef. Brazilians use slightly different cuts of beef than Americans do though. To prepare yourself for your next churrascaria visit, we’ve listed the best Brazilian cuts of beef below.
A favorite among most Brazilians. Picanha is a cut from the smaller side of the top of the rump. The meat is cut in thin slices and put on a skewer to grill. Picanha is grilled with the fat still on, which contributes to the flavor and juiciness of the meat, and is then cut off when it’s ready. Good picanha is juicy, tender and overall delicious. Making your own picanha is quite difficult in the US however, because beef is cut very differently in the US than in Brazil.
This top sirloin cut is another one of Brazil’s favorites. With just the right seasoning (not too much) and a good chef this sirloin will be a feast for your taste buds.
This one is a bit better known outside of Brazil. Often considered the best cut of beef there is, it won’t disappoint when prepared by a good churrascaria chef.
Baby beef is considered a delicacy in Brazil, and has a price tag to go along with this. This cut of beef comes from cows that are not fully mature yet, but not as young as veal. It’s cut from the tenderloin. The meat is more lean and softer than that of a mature cow.
This cut is surrounded by fat, which adds to its amazing flavor. It shouldn’t be cooked too much because it tends to get a bit tough when overcooked. No more than medium is our recommendation.
The best part of going to a churrascaria is that you don’t really have to choose between these different cuts of beef. If you can handle it, you can actually try all of them. You might want to start looking for some bigger pants though.
If you’re not drooling all over your shirt by now, the churrascaria experience might not be for you. If you are however, you’ve probably picked up the phone already to reserve a table at your local churrascaria. Enjoy your meal!
Zane Schwarzlose writes for Estancia Churrascaria, an Austin Brazilian steakhouse. Zane got hungry just writing this article.