Picanha burger: understand the controversy

Ever since McDonald’s admitted that McPicanha does not have the cut itself, but the aroma of it, the picanha burger has returned to the spotlight. There was even a hamburger shop taking advantage of the negative publicity of the competition to announce that it does it better.

Last weekend, DCK Burger, in Tatuapé, rushed to rename Hermano, which combines a steak burger with chimichurri and “lots of melted mozzarella”. Now, the snack is called Galaxy Pika. Renato Fechio, founder of the house, swears that he only uses real picanha in the recipe.

I prefer to make hamburgers with hard thighs or chuck steak, but there’s no way. Brazilians love everything with picanha, Nutella and melted cheese. It always sells well”, says Fechio, who charges R$ 49.90 for the snack.

Pika das Galáxias, from DCK Burger: a 100% steak burger

Image: Luis Vinhão

“Marketing and Waste”

With salty prices, ranging from R$70 to R$150 a kilo, picanha became an ingredient for hamburgers about 10 years ago, with the popularization of the so-called gourmet hamburgers.

“The cut went down in history to add more flavor and became a marketing ostentation”, evaluates Marcos Lee, China, partner of the input store The Burger Store and one of the most disputed consultants in the sector.

“Because of the barbecue, Brazilians consider the picanha a national pride”, he adds.

McDonalds McPicanha - Reproduction - Reproduction

McPicanha from McDonald’s

Image: Reproduction

Burger King Rib Whooper - Playback/YouTube - Playback/YouTube

Burger King Rib Whooper

Image: Playback/YouTube

Until it makes sense. In the opinion of Rogério Betti, founder of the DeBetti butcher shop and the Quintal DeBetti restaurant, sirloin really has a unique flavor. On top of that, it combines a lot of softness and juiciness above average. The layer of fat that surrounds the cut is not far behind — it has a taste all its own.

“It’s the fat that concentrates a good part of the picanha flavor”, Betti says. But for him, the account doesn’t close.

I think it’s a waste to grind picanha to make hamburgers. It’s like cooking with a Romanée-Conti.”

When it weighs in your pocket

The salty price helps to explain why it is no longer so easy to find 100% steak burgers around. In Feed Açougue do Produtor, the pair of discs, with 160 grams each, costs R$ 46.69 — almost double the price of the churrasqueiro blend, which takes chorizo, ancho, flat iron and acem brains and costs R$ $25.57.

For food engineer Germano Buzzo, a partner at Feed, sirloin steak only continues to be so successful because it is an old and, in a way, outdated culture.

In the past, it was one of the rare cuts that combined tenderness and flavor. But it’s a habit that no longer makes sense, we already have other excellent cuts, extremely soft and much cheaper”, he says.

Picanha, but not A lot of

The Burger Store uses a blend of picanha and duckling for its hamburger - Disclosure - Disclosure

The Burger Store uses a blend of sirloin and duck for its burger

Image: Disclosure

Mixing picanha with other cuts, as long as it is assumed, is a common practice among hamburgers and butchers frequented by the group of aficionados. At Empório 481, for example, the blend includes sirloin steak and beef breast — two units, which add up to 360 grams, cost R$25.30.

At The Burger Store, the steak and duckling blend, with 20% of the steak’s own fat, was called Teimoso, a joke due to the public’s stubbornness, according to Lee.

Using picanha fat is the smartest way to give the hamburger the characteristic flavor of the cut. Even so, we took it out of line in 2019. It makes no sense to grind such expensive meat. Today, the most popular blend, in all hamburgers, is brisket with chuck steak, half and half,” he says.

Blends with picanha also reached supermarket refrigerators. Wessel clearly states on the box that it is a mixture of meats: it warns that they are “beef cuts and 10% sirloin”. The packaging of the Bassi product, although less explained, also announces the mixture of “beef cuts and sirloin”.

Swift, with its Hamburger Sabor Picanha, and Seara, with the Picanha Burger from the Seara Gourmet line adopts the same practice: it is known, without much detail, that the recipes include picanha mixed with other beef cuts.

Rib on the hot seat

Varal 87 hamburger, with 50% of ribs - Disclosure - Disclosure

Varal 87 hamburger, with 50% ribs

Image: Disclosure

Although it doesn’t have as many fans as the picanha, the rib burger is also among the favorites of burger lovers. At the Varal 87 meat house, the cut is responsible for the only hamburger on the menu. The recipe was created for Burger Fest, in 2020, and was so successful that it never left the menu – with cheddar, aioli, iceberg lettuce, crispy onions and brioche bread, accompanied by soufflé potatoes, it costs R$ 45.87 .

The rib is 50% of the blend. In addition, I use flank steak and chuck steak and 20% beef breast fat”, says the partner of the house, Helder Justo.

Very present in blends, both in supermarkets and in butchers specializing in premium meats, the rib is also at the center of a recent controversy. As soon as the McDonald’s episode became public, the Burger King network admitted that its Whopper Rib is made with a palette — ribs, it just has a natural aroma. And this Tuesday (3) he changed the name of the snack to Whopper Paleta Swine.

Among the hamburgers, the rib enjoys prestige for being a cut glued to the bone and, therefore, quite tasty. But what’s hot, it’s touchy, warns Lee. “If there’s any problem with the deboning and the guy hits the sharp knife, it’s going to stop cartilage in the meat,” he explains.

Without paying attention to technical details, burger lovers want more is new. The wagyu hamburger, considered the most expensive meat in the world, promises to be the hottest thing ever — at Feed, two units cost R$51.17. And just using famous cuts is no longer enough. The next release from The Burger Store will be the terroir burger.

I’m looking for animals from different regions, with different ages and diets. Our clientele is aficionados, the hamburger culture has become almost a religion.”

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