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It’s been four days since hockey left us

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A little steak lesson in this journal.

Magazine dining column on Toro Toro Photo by Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post

This is a journal series about dealing with the absence of hockey after the NHL “paused” the season on March 12th. Maybe you’ll find some solace in this. Maybe some laughs. Maybe something to help you through a missing piece of your life while we all do what we can to flatten the curve.

It’s been four days since hockey left us.

Since the last time I checked in with y’all, we’ve missed two more games. This time it was a home back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. If I remember correctly, this was the only double home back-to-back the Lightning had on the schedule all season. Neither game was particularly exciting though as it was supposed to be the Detroit Red Wings and the New Jersey Devils. Both teams were vying for a lottery pick and the honor of taking Alexis Lafreniere with the first overall pick.

So, not particularly interesting games expected here, but still, it would have been fun to have a back-to-back full weekend of Lightning hockey.

Instead, I spent Friday night with some friends. I made dinner serving a stir fry. We had Picanha (more on that in a minute), fried rice, zucchini, snow peas, onions, and baby carrots. It came out alright. Not the best I’ve ever had, but it came together decently enough for dinner.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Picanha, it’s a cut of beef that you don’t often see. It’s also called Sirloin Cap, but most U.S. butchers don’t cut for it. The nature of butchering a cow means that the butcher must make decisions of how to portion out the beef. Often times choosing one cut of meat will mean that they cannot take a different cut. Picanha is one such and is why you generally don’t see it offered.

But Picanha is more popular in Brazil and Portugal. If you go to a Brazilian steakhouse, like Fogo de Chao, Texas de Brazil, or Rodizio Grill, they serve Picanha. It’s a particularly delicious cut of steak with a lot of fat running through the meat as well as a nice fat cap. I feel that it’s a mix between a NY Strip and a Ribeye. It has the tenderness and feel you get with a NY Strip, but with a fat content closer to a Ribeye.

I have been infatuated with Picanha for quite a while and found a Brazilian market near me that sells it. For USDA Prime, it’s only $8 a pound which is quite an incredible price. Especially when you consider that the more popular NY Strip and Ribeye usually will cost from $16-$20 per pound for USDA Prime. One, small, downside of Picanha is that you generally have to buy a whole Picanha which ranges from three to four pounds.

My local market will slice it for the customer into steaks, and they do make absolutely amazing steaks. My preferred method for cooking them is a reverse sear where you cook the steak first (I prefer doing it with sous vide, but in a cast iron skillet in the oven works well) and then you sear it in a hot cast iron skillet to form a nice crust. It also gives you the opportunity to cook the fat cap through and render it down into the most delicious morsel running along the side of the steak.

With a whole Picanha though, you are left with a smaller, triangular shaped piece that isn’t as suitable for a steak. I’ve found that these are great when you trim the fat off of it, cut it into bits, and pan fry it into perfect little morsels of steak. I bought three Picanhas for a New Years Eve party and had quite a bit leftover that I vacuum sealed and froze, including the end pieces. Those end pieces are what I used for our stir fry dinner.

If you want to learn more about Picanha, check out this video from a fellow Floridian, and Brazillian, Guga. He has two channels, Guga Foods and Sous Vide Everything where he explores steak in all of it’s forms.