What Is Beef Coulotte Steak?

Acabonac Farms |

The coulotte, known as “picanha'' in Brazil, is a highly prized cut from the top of the beef sirloin. Affectionately referred to as the Queen of Brazilian Churrasco (Brazilian barbecue), coulotte offers a savory flavor and unique tenderness that’s secured the cut’s position as a Brazilian delicacy.

The traditional preparation involves grilling on skewers over open flames or hot coals, which creates a flavorful charred crust, and a juicy interior. You can spot a coulotte by the large band of fat hugging the side of it, which instills it with a rich taste and buttery flavor when cooked correctly. For restaurant and home chefs alike, this steak is a surefire way to bring a flavorful Brazilian Churrasco flair to any meal. 

Key Takeaways

  • The coulotte, also known as picanha, is a premium cut from the top of the beef sirloin, celebrated as a staple of traditional Brazilian barbecue.
  • Distinguished by its thick fat cap and fine grain, this steak offers a richer flavor and more tender texture compared to other sirloin cuts.
  • Grilling over open flames or hot coals, particularly on skewers, is the traditional and favored method, maximizing the cut's natural juiciness and ensuring a flavorful seared exterior.

What is Coulotte Steak?

The coulotte is harvested from the top of the beef sirloin, part of the cow's back near the rump. This cut is known for its tender texture and a notable fat cap on one side that renders and flavors the meat wonderfully during cooking. The cut’s origins lie in traditional Brazilian barbecue, or Churrasco, but has quickly gained notoriety worldwide for its exquisite flavor when grilled. Known by various names around the world, including coulotte roast, culotte steak, picanha steak (particularly in Brazil), top sirloin cap, and sirloin cap steak, this cut is now considered a versatile ingredient in many dishes.

What Makes Coulotte Steak Different from Ribeye?

The two are actually quite similar, differing primarily in their location on the animal. The coulotte is cut from the top of the sirloin, which is located at the rear of the animal, while the ribeye is harvested from the rib section. Aside from this, these two cuts have several overlapping characteristics. Both cuts boast a fat cap, with the ribeye’s spinalis dorsi cap being smaller but more marbled. They also have a similar fine grained structure, which contributes to their tenderness. The grain of both cuts ensures a buttery and soft consistency, making them both excellent choices for the grill, allowing you to achieve a contrasting crispy exterior that adds variety to each bite.

Given these similarities, the ribeye serves as a great substitute for this Brazilian cut. If you’re looking for an ultra-flavorful cut of steak that is perfect for grilling, you’ll get a similar result from ribeye.

Coulotte Steak vs Other Popular Cuts

It can be somewhat difficult to find this steak, simply because not many people know about it. This results in a lower market demand, and subsequently lower supply. Luckily, there are other beef cuts that share characteristics and can provide similar results, each offering a unique twist on the Brazilian classic.

Grass Fed Sirloin Steak: Grass-fed sirloin is cut from a nearby, albeit leaner part of the sirloin. While it shares the coulotte's tender texture, the sirloin has less fat, which can appeal to those seeking a leaner cut without sacrificing taste.

Grass Fed Tri-Tip SteakThe tri-tip, originating from the lower part of the sirloin (while coulotte is from the top), presents a similar flavor profile that's slightly milder. It has a noticeable grain pattern, which, when sliced correctly against the grain, ensures maximum tenderness. 

Grass Fed New York Strip: The New York Strip is cut from the short loin section of the cow, a muscle that does relatively little work. This results in a steak that's both flavorful and tender, with only a bit more chew than coulotte. 

These 100% grass fed options from Acabonac Farms are superb alternatives to the coulotte, providing a variety of flavors and textures that respond deliciously to grilling. A notable plus is that these grass-fed cuts also boast an incredibly unique barbecue ready flavor brought out by the cattle's natural whole food diet.

What Do You Use Coulotte Steak For?

While traditionally prepared grilled over open flame, this steak is versatile, and its application goes far beyond Brazilian barbecue. In fact, it's an excellent choice for a wide variety of dishes and cooking methods:

Roasts: The fat cap on the steak makes it ideal for roasting, as the fat renders into the meat, providing moisture and flavor throughout the cooking process. A slow-roasted coulotte can be a centerpiece for a special dinner.

Kabobs: Coulotte’s ability to absorb marinades make it a perfect steak for kabobs. Cubed and skewered with vegetables, it grills beautifully, offering a flavorful crust and succulent interior perfect for outdoor cooking.

Sandwiches: When thinly sliced, this steak makes a delicious meat for sandwiches. Its fine grain tenderness can take any sandwich to the next level, and offers a unique twist on classic favorites.

Skewers: When cut into thick slices, skewered, and grilled over open flames, this traditional method will help you achieve the signature smoky flavor and seared crust famous in Brazilian barbecue.

How to Cook a Coulotte Steak

Wondering how to cook this cut of steak to perfection? It’s not too difficult but it does involve understanding the best methods to highlight its flavor and tenderness. Here's a step-by-step guide to cooking coulotte using grilling, roasting, and pan-searing methods, along with tips for achieving the ideal doneness and a delicious crust.

Grilling

Preparation: Allow the steak to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper or your choice of marinade.

Preheat Grill: Heat your grill to a high temperature (around 450°F to 500°F).

Grill: Place the steak on the grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium-rare doneness. Cook over open flames for a traditional charred crust in Brazilian barbecue fashion.

Roasting

Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Season: Season the steak as desired. For extra flavor, consider searing it on a high-heat pan for 2 minutes on each side before roasting.

Roast: Place in the oven on a rack over a baking sheet. Cook for about 15-20 minutes for medium-rare.

Pan-Searing

Preheat Pan: Heat a heavy skillet or cast-iron pan over high heat.

Season: Pat the meat dry, then season.

Sear: Add oil to the pan and sear the steak for about 3-4 minutes on each side for a medium-rare finish.

Ideal Internal Temperatures for Doneness

Rare: 120-125°F

Medium Rare: 130-135°F

Medium: 140-145°F

Medium Well: 150-155°F

Well Done: 160-165°F

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Crust and Tenderness

Let it Rest: No matter what cooking method you use, allowing the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking ensures that the juices are evenly distributed. Otherwise, if you slice or bite into the meat immediately after cooking, all the flavorful juices will come running out, wasted on the plate.

High Heat: Whether grilling, roasting, or pan-searing, starting with high heat is crucial to develop a flavorful crust. Even for a slow roast, sear each side on a pan at high heat first to lock in juices.

Don't Overcook: You don’t want to cook away the tenderness and flavor of this cut. Stick to the ideal internal temperatures for your preferred doneness.

Slice Against the Grain: When serving, cut against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness in every bite.


Coulotte Steak Recipes

Coulotte pairs beautifully with a variety of sides - from veggies and salads to mashed potatoes. Now that you know how to cook it, let’s explore some dishes and sides that can turn your delicious steak into a completely finished meal.

Coulotte Atop Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (feeds 4):

  • 1.5 lb whole Coulotte
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chives, chopped for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the top off the head of garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, and roast for about 30-40 minutes until soft.
  2. Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and mash them with the potatoes, butter, and warm milk until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill or pan sear your coulette. Follow grilling or pan searing instructions in the section above.
  5. Garnish the mashed potatoes with chives and place your cooked coulotte atop the mashed potatoes. If pan seared, drizzle any juices from the pan onto the meat and mashed potatoes. 

Coulotte Steak Kabobs

Ingredients (feeds 4):

  • 1.5 lbs coulotte, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz mushrooms, halved if large
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Wooden or metal skewers

Marinade Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
  2. Add the steak cubes to the marinade, tossing to ensure each piece is well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for more flavor.

Kabob Assembly:

  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 10 minutes to prevent burning.
  2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Thread the marinated steak, bell peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and mushrooms onto the skewers, alternating between the meat and vegetables.
  4. Season the assembled kabobs with a little more salt and pepper, to taste.

Grilling:

  1. Place the kabobs on the grill, turning every 2-3 minutes to ensure even cooking and nice grill marks on all sides. Grill for about 10-12 minutes total for medium-rare to medium steak, or until the vegetables are tender and charred.
  2. Remove from the grill and let rest for 1-2 minutes.

Serving:

  • Serve the kabobs hot, freshly rested, with your choice of sides like rice, salad, or pita bread. Enjoy the blend of the steak's richness with the smoky, charred flavor of the grilled vegetables.

Where to Buy High-Quality Grass-Fed Steaks Online

If you’re looking to experience the coulotte for yourself, make sure to utilize the recommendations and methods outlined in this article to bring this centerpiece of Brazilian barbecue tradition to life. 

While Acabonac Farms does not offer coulotte steak specifically, we encourage you to try our diverse selection of 100% grass-fed beef cuts that echo the flavor, texture, and versatility found in coulotte. Our offerings include Sirloin Steak, RibeyeTri-Tip SteakFilet MignonNew York Strip Steak, and Flank Steak

For those interested in recreating the smoky flavors of Brazilian barbecue or exploring the richness of 100% grass-fed beef, Acabonac Farms’ selection is available online with convenient delivery options right to your front door.


Frequently Asked Questions about Coulotte Steak

Is Coulotte Steak a Good Cut?

Yes, coulotte is a great cut of beef! It combines several desirable attributes: flavor, tenderness, and versatility in cooking. The presence of a sizable fat cap is what infuses it with all that great flavor and juiciness. This extra layer of fat also insulates the meat, making it more forgiving during cooking over high heat. If you’re aiming for a deliciously crusted steak that stays tender on the inside, this cut is a terrific option for any barbecue.

Is Coulotte Steak Tender?

Thanks to its fine grain and the amount of marbling that runs through the meat, this is a very tender steak. If a cut has fine grain, it means that its muscle fibers are smaller and more tightly packed, which evenly breaks up the structure of the meat, making it more tender. While the coulotte doesn't possess the extensive marbling seen in cuts like the ribeye, the ribbon of fat on its exterior and the evenly distributed marbling it has work together during cooking and ensure that each bite is tender and flavor-packed.

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