Cooking Tips Wagyu 101

What Makes Australian Wagyu Picanha So Damn Good?

By Nicholas Fiorentino

When it comes to wagyu steak, Australian Wagyu Picanha is one of the best in the world. Otherwise known as the "Queen of Steaks", Picanha has a rich history that we'll discuss now that it is finally becoming more popular in the United States.


The History of Picanha 

Picanha originates from Brazil where it is often considered the most prized cut of meat from a cow. It is cut from the hindquarter of the cow and is known for its combination of buttery fat (the fat cap) and tender, juicy meat. The reason it is especially tender is the muscle it is cut from, the biceps femoris, is a little-used muscle.

Picanha is also referred to as the Coulotte, Sirloin Cap, or Rump Cap in the USA. The standard Brazilian preparation is skewered and cooked over a charcoal grill. Due to its inherent flavor profile, it is minimally seasoned with a salt-based rub used only to enhance the flavor.

The origin of the term "Picanha" is not known. It is thought that it is derived from the word "picana," a rancher's pole used to herd cattle emblematic of a skewer.


The History of Australian Wagyu

Australian Wagyu farming began in the late 1980s, when a small number of Wagyu cattle were imported from Japan. These animals were originally bred for meat production, and their superior marbling and flavor quickly made them popular among Australian farmers. In the early 2000s, the Australian Wagyu Association was formed to promote the breeding and production of Wagyu cattle.

Today, there are over 200 members of the Association, and Australian Wagyu beef is exported to countries all over the world. The high quality of Wagyu beef has made it a popular choice among chefs and restaurants, and it fetch a higher price than other types of beef. Australian Wagyu farmers continue to work hard to produce the best possible product, and they are constantly innovating to improve the quality of their beef.

Whereas Japanese Wagyu farmers are rich in tradition, Australian Wagyu farmers are innovators in making data-driven farming decisions. Their Wagyu are treated as data points, with constant analysis post-mortem as to how their next head can be improved.


Australian Wagyu Picanha 

So, what makes Australian Wagyu Coulotte so damn good? For starters, Australian Wagyu cattle are raised in some of the most pristine conditions in the world. The cattle are fed a diet that consists mostly of grass with a little bit of grain to finish. This results in beef that is incredibly marbled with fat which gives it an unparalleled flavor and texture.


Picanha's characteristics of a buttery fat cap and tender, well-marbled meat below the fat cap lend it to being a very delicious cut of meat. Picanha are scored based on their intramuscular marbling using the MS (Marble Score) Scale. This 1-12 scoring system provides a universal reference point for the level of marbling a carcass exhibited at slaughter. For reference, USDA Prime Beef scores (on average) BMS 3-5. Wagyu purists will argue the legitimacy of scoring non-Japanese Wagyu using the BMS scale. We do so to help our readers visualize the marbling of the wagyu steak they are selecting.


The Meatery sells a variety of Australian Wagyu Picanha, with marble scores ranging from 4 to 9+. While our MS 9+ Australian Wagyu Picanha is one of our absolute favorites, we quite like the MS 4-5 as well when we're trying to keep our meal a little less rich. We also offer Picanha in whole-roast and center cut slices. The average Picanha weighs about 4 pounds.


How to Cook Picanha

There are a number of ways to cook Picanha:

  • Sliced into steaks and grilled
  • Baked whole in the oven
  • Reverse Seared in the Oven (baked whole until an internal temperature is reached, and then sliced and seared for color)
  • Smoked in a pellet or offset smoker
  • Seared in a pan on the stove (slices)
  • (Our favorite) Reverse Seared in the Sous Vide. The entire roast is submerged in the Sous Vide bath and upon reaching temp, sliced and seared on a high heat grill or pan.


Final Note

We hope this deep dive into the lovely world of Australian Wagyu Picanha has been helpful to you! Here's a handy link to see all of the available Australian Wagyu Picanha at The Meatery. Feel free to video chat with us on Meatery Live to pick your very own Picanha out!

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