Pichanha sous vide

We like to watch cooking competition shows and last week was the semifinals and finals of MasterChef Junior. In the semis, one of the young chefs made rib cap. The rib cap, aka deckle, comes from the area around ribeye or prime rib in the forequarter of a carcass, and is regarded by some as the best cut of all. When shopping at the Rosenthal meat center on Friday, I didn’t find rib cap, but I found sirloin cap, which is similar in being the cap part of a cut, but different in coming from much closer to the back end. When cooking beef sous vide, I like the way extended times allow cheaper cuts to retain flavor while being cooked medium rare. But I also had “cap” on the brain, so I picked one up. 1.83 lb at 4.69/lb.

Sirloin cap is also known as pichanha, which is prized in Brazil. There’s a Brazilian steakhouse in Philadelphia called Picanha (never been there, just saw it in the Google results). Picanha is often the thing that’s curled into a C shape and roasted on a spit in churrasco style cooking. When cooking that way, the fat is left on to render over the hot coals.

For my purposes, I trimmed a lot of fat off the cap, salted the meat, and did my usual 135F bath with a splash of soy and fish sauce. Started around 2:15 PM.

It’s not very creative, but I thought I’d make a chimichurri to go with this. Looking at recipes I didn’t realize that cilantro isn’t used in classic chimichurri; it’s based on parsley and oregano as the green herbs. So, parsley, garlic, salt, oregano, red pepper flakes, olive oil and red wine vinegar went into the food processor.

It was around 8:30 by the time we were ready to pull it out of the water bath. I vacillated on how to sear the thing. It’s not close to flat, and still had a layer of fat on the cap side, even after trimming a bunch of
fat. I ended up starting it in a cast iron pan, then putting it under a broiler, then finishing it back on the stovetop using tongs to hold different faces on the heat. Rendered a lot of fat. I think the broiler step wasn’t much of a help and holding the meat on the pan with the tongs was probably enough.

Served with roasted baby potatoes, chimichurri, and plantain chips.

This came out really well. The meat was pinker than it looks like in the photo, and it was tender and flavorful.