What is a Coulotte Steak and How Do You Prepare It?

November 25, 2022

In a nutshell, the coulotte steak is a piece of sirloin steak located at the top of the thigh or rump of the cow. It’s a pretty tender steak thanks to the thick fat cap that covers it and the fat marbling that runs through. The coulotte steak may be unpopular, however it’s a cut of steak I learned during my time at cooking school.

Today, I’ll tell you more about what a coulotte steak is and how to sear this tender beef cut in a cast iron skillet. So let’s get to it. First, here’s more on what a coulotte steak is. 

What is a Coulotte Steak

What Is a Coulotte Steak?

The coulotte steak is a particularly tender sirloin steak cut. It is a piece of beef that comes from the top of the thigh of the cow on the rump near the tail. This is the tip of the rump steak.

It is also called the top sirloin. The truth is that the actual steak is taken when the bottom sirloin butt and the top sirloin butt are separated.

Steak coulotte is not that uncommon. It’s the same steak we call a rump cap or top sirloin cap. Cultural nuances are only the difference here. In France, it’s called coulotte steak while in Portugal and Brazil, they know it as the picanha steak.  They’re all sirloin steaks, notwithstanding some little differences.

The tip of the rump steak is particularly a triangular piece, with a thick and soft layer of fat. This piece of meat looks like a huge duck breast. The meat is lean, juicy, and tender, just like anyone will like it. 

It’s capped by a layer of fat that helps tenderize the meat. The thick layer of the fat melts when cooking coulotte steak. Then it makes the meat tender and moister.  

The piece of meat is cut into pieces and can be cooked on the barbecue, or seared on a skillet or a plancha. You can also stir-fry this steak. The cooked pieces can be served with salad, vegetables, rice, or fries.

The History of the Coulotte Steak

The beef coulotte is a traditional Brazilian cut of beef that was later adopted in Portugal. This cut is less well known in the United States of America but is known as a top sirloin cap or rump cap

However, in South America, it is known as picanha steak. Coulotte is a name given to it by the French people, which in the language, means “cap.”

North American butchers usually divide it into other parts, such as the rump, the round, and the loin. It consists of the biceps femoris muscle and its fat cap.

Coulotte steak is particularly Brazilian or Argentine cut of beef. The meat must come entirely from a type of black cattle raised in the Pampas of southern Brazil and Argentina. 

In Portugal, you can find good quality coulotte steaks everywhere (from the butchers, hypermarkets, etc). They are imported from Brazil and generally sold vacuum-packed. 

What is Another Name for a Coulotte Steak?

A coulotte steak might be called other names like picanha steak, top sirloin cap steak, fat cap steak, and rump cap. There are also other references to sirloin butt cap, top sirloin butt, or sirloin cap roast. So if you want to get a coulotte steak, keep your eyes peeled for those names…

I know that’s a lot to take in, but that’s why coulotte steak may seem less common to you. So when you come across it, you might think it’s a new cut of steak, but it’s actually not. 

Raw cap rump beef

Where to Find Coulotte Steak?

The coulotte steak is a little-known type of beef in the US. It is very popular in South America, specifically Argentina and Brazil. You can order them as a whole or sliced beef. If you want to find coulotte steak, it’s mostly done entirely online. 

As a butcher, you can find coulotte steaks from the sirloin tip, located above the short loin below the tenderloin.

How to Cook Coulotte Steak?

If you were only used to making grilled coulotte steak recipe, today I’m going to show you another way to cook coulotte steak at home.

Making the beef coulotte in the skillet is a delicious way to prepare this meat and make it as tasty as the barbecue coulotte steak. It’s tender and juicy just like filet mignon or a ribeye steak cut of beef. 

Ingredients 

For 5 to 6 people, below are what you need to make a coulotte steak recipe:

  • 8oz coulotte steak
  • 6 cloves of fresh garlic or one tablespoon of garlic powder 
  • Olive oil: 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • 3/4 tablespoon coarse salt 
  • Half a tablespoon of pepper
  • Garlic butter

Method 

Step 1: Score the Fat Cap

Make lines vertically and horizontally. 

To do this, I like to use a cutting board and not a plate because it can get a little slippery. 

Those lines you make when scoring the fat cap are going to allow the steak seasoning to get into the meat. 

You don’t have to slice the steak like you would for a tri-tip steak.

Step 2: Make Your Coulotte Steak Seasoning 

For the seasoning, you need some garlic powder, salt, and pepper. That makes the dry rub for coulotte steak. Mix the seasoning of garlic, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl so it combines well. 

Step 3: Sprinkle the Seasoning on the Steak 

To season the coulotte steak, generously sprinkle the steak seasoning all over the beef cut. And now it’s time to sear your coulotte steak. 

Step 4: Heat Your Skillet on Medium Heat 

So you just need to heat your skillet to medium-high. Then add some olive oil. When it gets hot, you’re going to see it begin to smoke. That’s the perfect time to add the steak. 

Step 5: Introduce the Coulotte Steak With the Fat Cap Down 

Add your coulotte steak ensuring the fat cap side is down. Next, sear the steak to medium rare for about 2 to 3 mins until you can see a brown crust form on the beef facing the pan. 

Step 6: Flip the Steak 

Flip your steak and sear the second side for two to three minutes until a brown crust. 

Picanha Steaks on the Grill

Step 7: Sear the Edges 

Because they’re thick steaks, you should sear each edge for 10-20 seconds to brown them.

Step 8: Check Internal Temperature With a Meat Thermometer 

Now is a good time to check with a thermometer to see the internal temperature of the steak. If you want the steak cooked to around medium rare or medium doneness, the meat thermometer should read between 130 to 145 degrees

Step 9: Brush With Some Butter 

The last time, I applied some compound garlic and herb butter recipe on the skin of the seared steak. If you don’t have any herbs or delicious garlic butter, you could also just put some plain butter on top with a BBQ brush. Then let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing it. 

Step 10: Dish and Serve 

There are many things you can do with the steak. You can dish and eat it just like it is. I actually like to turn this particular steak into a steak pizza.

In the Brazilian tradition, the coulotte steak platter is served with chimichurri sauce. It is a vinaigrette made with fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. 

If you want to baste your meat with a spicier sauce, you can concoct a marinade based on tomatoes and peppers, with olive oil and tabasco. As an accompaniment, you can also have rice, jacket potatoes, and brown or black beans.

Other Preparation Tips

The preparation of the coulotte steak differs depending on the recipe you want to make. In any case, whether to barbecue or roast, you must take the meat out of the fridge at least 1 hour and 30 minutes before cooking.

For a Whole Roast

In Brazil, coulotte steak can be roasted entirely. You just need to serve it with white rice and black beans, potatoes or mixed salads.

For a Brazilian Coulotte Steak 

The secret to Brazilian coulotte steak is how the meat is cooked. You have to grill it by making crosses on the layer of fat with a sharp knife, just like preparing a duck breast. In addition, you can prepare a marinade that will coat the meat with soy sauce.

Chop some garlic cloves, get a few tablespoons of vegetable oil and make a paste. Once the grill fire is on, you can place the meat at least 6 inches from the embers, making sure to turn them over each time.

Chef’s Tips: During the tasting, cut your meat perpendicular to the fibers, it will be more difficult to cut it this way. But it’s always more tender in the mouth.

Traditional Brazilian Barbecue

FAQs 

Is a Coulotte Steak Tender?

Yes, coulotte steaks are tender, juicy, and lean. The fat cap contributes to this tenderness if you score it with a knife properly and season. When prepared well, they can be as tender as a filet mignon.

Is Coulotte Steak the Same as Top Sirloin?

The coulotte steak is often referred to as a top sirloin cap, because of where it’s taken and the fat over it. You can prepare it with the fat cap on or removed. 

What Does Coulotte Steak Taste Like?

Because it is leaner than fatty, the coulotte steak has a beefy flavor that everybody likes. It’s a versatile cut of beef for everyone. If you’re a weight watcher, you can remove the fat cap and cook it. If you want a tender, juicy, and flavorful steak like a filet mignon cut of beef, just leave the fat cap on, scored, and sprinkled with seasonings. 

Conclusion 

Now that you know what coulotte steaks are and how to cook them, I hope you have many delicious steak dinners ahead of you. Until next time, have a wonderful and delicious day.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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