Beef 101: Churrasco Cooking


Would I care for some grilled meat, rotisseried over open flame and carved before my very eyes?

You bet churrasco (see what I did there?)

Churrasco cooking or more simply: cooking via rotisserie over an indirect flame source isn’t anything new. Originating in Brazil three centuries ago, the cooking method is fairly unchanged over the years and, today, it’s still the preparation method used in a growing number of popular Brazilian steakhouses.

A churraso grill, as it is, allows for mass quantities of meats and other grillable items to cook simulanteously on rotating rods over an open flame. Years ago, this was done over crude outdoor fires with meat on spears. Today? The sky’s the limit to how fancy these grills are made.


Our good man Chef Tony Biggs has fallen in love with churrasco cooking. The evenness in cooking, the perfect crust, the transformation of meat into a succulent, carved delicacy appeals to him.

When he came to Wooster, Ohio to join the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, equipping the kitchen with a churrasco grill was one of his first orders of business.

Anything can be cooked on a churrasco grill but the quintissential cut of beef commonly used is the cap of the sirloin — more commonly referred to as coulotte or picanha.

The coulotte is such an attractive cut for churrasco barbecue because of the layer of fat on top. When skewered for grilling, the cut takes on a shape that resembles the letter C, and that external fat melts and bastes the cut as it rotates.

Chef Tony recommends also trying beef tri-tip on a churrasco grill because, well, tri-tip is pretty much spectacular in any cooking application. If you have the opportunity to play with these cuts on a churrasco grill, follow chef Tony’s method.

For the coulotte:

churrasco grilling

For the tri-tip, know that the trick is always about cutting against the grain. The grain on a tri-tip isn’t like most cuts. It’s not consistent and halfway down the cut, it changes. So, Chef Tony suggests making those cuts before skewering, making for an easier time eating the finished product at your dinner table. I know, not everyone has a churrasco grill at home but you can come close to it with this grilling recipe for tri-tip with Brazilian cheese bread on the side. Enjoy!

churrasco grilling

Grilled Tri-tip Roast with Santa Maria Rub
Author: Certified Angus Beef ® brand
  • 1 [i]Certified Angus Beef [/i]® tri-tip roast (approx. 3 lbs.)
  • 1/2 cup (3-ounces) coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (2-ounces) cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2-ounces) granulated honey (or granulated raw sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon (1/4-ounce) granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (1/4-ounce) onion powder
  1. Combine salt, pepper, granulated honey, garlic and onion powder.
  2. Evenly rub tri-tip with three to four tablespoons of spice rub. Store excess in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard.
  3. Cover tightly in plastic wrap or zipper-locking plastic bag. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, overnight for more intense flavor.
  4. Over wood fire, charcoal (preferred) or gas, grill tri-tip on each side over medium high heat to develop a dark crust. Move to cooler side of grill to finish to an internal temperature of 130-135°F.
  5. Move to a clean cutting board, tent with foil and let rest five to ten minutes. Slice thinly against the grain to serve.
  6. Rub recipe yields approximately 1 1/4 cups (6 ounces), enough for at least five, 3-pound tri-tip roasts.
Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • ¾ cup sharp or medium cheddar, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine milk, oil and salt into saucepan, whisking occasionally, and bring to a gentle boil. Remove from heat as soon as you see bubbles coming through the milk.
  3. Add tapioca flour and stir until mixture is grainy and gelatinous.
  4. Transfer dough to mixing bowl. Beat in mixer or by hand until dough is smooth and cool.
  5. Whisk eggs together. With mixer on medium, beat eggs into dough in two additions. Wait until first addition is completed incorporated into dough before adding the second.
  6. With mixer on medium, beat in cheese until dough is sticky and stretchy.
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, spoon out tablespoon-sized rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  8. Transfer sheet into the oven and bake for 25-28 minutes, until dough has puffed and the outsides are dry. Cool briefly and eat.


Published by

Bryan Schaaf

Bryan is a modern-day Hamburglar, minus the mask and kitschy catch phrase. There’s not a burger on the planet he wouldn’t take on — even those token ones for customers with less-adventurous palates. In his spare time, he’s a soccer junkie, musician, husband and father of the most adorable little carnivores this side of Jurassic Park.