Picanha (pick-ahn-yeh) Brazilian barbeque tri-tip roast This is a classic Brazilian dinner, learned on a visit to my friend Evie's parents' house in Sao Paulo. Her father prepared this for us one afternoon, as I watched intently. It works as a dinner, as well as for a sort of light fare for a light pot-luck/wine-luck we have at our house, called "Wine of the Casita" (WOC). It is served with sliced baked potatoes and a relish, both recipes below. Sometimes we add a green salad, but other vegetables just get in the way ;-)
- 1 'tri-tip' roast 2-4 lbs
- 5-6 cloves garlic or 3-4 tablespoons of prepared crushed garlic
- coarse salt (0.5-0.75 cups) best is coarse salt that is pounded with a meat mallet in a fabric bag; the largest pieces should be like oatmeal or rice (maybe a pea)). second-best is kosher salt (also called koshering salt)
- olive oil 1/4 cup or so
Trim excess fat from the meat. There's one side that is mostly a large slab of fat; trim down to 1/8" approx. Don't worry about being perfect; most of it burns off anyway. The idea is to reduce the amount of fat that creates flare-ups on the grill.
Mix salt and garlic together to make a paste, rub all over the meat. Add a little olive oil if the paste won't stick. Marinate the tri-tip several hours (2-3 at least), turning it over once an hour or so. Liquid should come out of the meat.
Scrape most of the mixture off the roast, esp. the large chunks of salt. Don't worry about getting all of it, but try to get most of it off. Rub the meat with a little olive oil, and a little more garlic. Do NOT add pepper - it burns on the grill.
Grill over very high (highest setting) heat. Do NOT turn over until the first side is nearly burnt, but the meat is still about 20-30 degrees F from being 'done'.
Turn ONCE, cook until 'done' (rare using a meat thermometer). Take off heat and let sit for 5 minutes before carving.
Carve perpendicular to the grain in 3/16"-1/4" slices (around 5mm). Try to catch the 'juice' for the serving plate. Serve warm or cold with baked or boiled potatoes (see recipe below) and relish (see recipe below).
Baked potatoes for picanha
- russet baking potatoes (0.5-1 per person) - kosher salt
Gail's trick for making the potatoes better is to prepare them in two stages. This recipe uses large russet baking potatoes.
First, boil, bake, or microwave the potatoes until nearly done. We typically microwave them for 3 minutes each, wrapped in a wet paper towel.
Wipe the potatoe with a wet paper towel, then sprinkle on generous amounts of kosher salt. (DO NOT USE PEPPER - it'll burn). Be generous; much if it is lost in the final 'grill'.
Grill the potatoes on medium heat until the skin is somewhat dry and chewey, but not crispy. They will turn light brown in areas, but not all over.
Dice or slice to serve.
Relish for picanha
- tomatoes remove seeds and 'gel' before starting - white onions - green peppers - garlic (3 cloves, or 1.5 tablespoons crushed paste) - olive oil (0.25 cups) - red wine vinegar (0.5-0.75 cups) - cold water - salt, pepper to taste
Dice tomatoes, green peppers, and onion, all pieces approx. 1/4" cubes. It is best to remove the seeds and 'gel' from the tomatoes before dicing.
Mix equal measures of the three (by volume; I do it by 'eye') in a larger bowl than you need. Add 0.5-0.75 cups red wine vinegar and stir. Add cold water - about 0.25 cups, and olive oil, all to taste. Add some salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Serve with picanha and/or spooned on sliced baked potatoes.
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