“Traditionally, the only preparation for picanha (rump caps or round) in Brazil is the use of rock salt. Brown herb butter is Patricia’s addition and optional.” Maeve O’Meara, Food Safari Fire






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (155 votes)


  • 3 rump caps (around 1.2 kg/2 lb 10 oz each), excess fat and sinew removed from the underside
  • rock salt


Brown herb butter (optional)

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) salted butter, cubed
  • handful of rosemary and thyme sprigs, leaves picked


Tomato and onion vinaigrette

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped (⅓ of tomatoes approximately)
  • 1 bunch chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) red-wine vinegar
  • 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Ensure your meat is at room temperature before cooking.

Prepare the fire using layers of charcoal and kindling. Intersperse with firelighters and light. Allow coals and kindling to burn a little before adding another layer of charcoal. Burn until you have mostly white coals.

While you’re waiting for the fire to be ready, combine all the ingredients for the tomato and onion vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt, mix well and set aside.

To make the brown butter, melt the butter in a pan and continue to cook until nutty and brown. Add the herbs and remove from the heat.

Skewer the pieces of beef (picanha), onto the spit through the centre and fix in place with spit prong forks.

Brush the meat liberally with some of the brown butter (if using) and rub with rock salt, massaging well. Brush again with butter.

Cook on the spit over hot coals for about 20–30 minutes, basting halfway through if using herb butter. The meat should be rare or medium–rare. Quickly spread coals out if you get flare-ups from the fat and butter dripping down – this will disperse the heat. Carve small amounts of meat and baste again. Continue to cook after carving each time to allow a crust to form again.

Serve with tomato and onion vinaigrette. Other traditional accompaniments include potato salad, steamed white rice, farofa (toasted flour side dish) and black beans.


Recipe from Food Safari Fire by Maeve O'Meara (Hardie Grant, hbk, $55).  Photography by Kaily Koutsogiannis.


Food Safari Fire starts Thursday 7 January 2016 at 8pm on SBS. Visit the program page for recipes, videos and more.