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How to Sous Vide Sirloin Cap Steak

Chances are, unless you frequent Brazilian BBQ joints, you’ve never heard of a sirloin cap. This under-rated cut of beef is remarkably popular in Brazil where it goes by the name of picanha. As the name suggests, this steak comes from the same region as regular sirloin and is functionally similar to in terms of flavor and texture. However, unlike sirloin, this steak is capped with a thick slab of fat. This slab of fat can be kept on and will baste the meat as it is cooked.

If prepared with care, sirloin cap can be a wonderfully tender and flavorful cut of beef and sous vide is an ideal cooking method for this steak. The low and slow, precise cooking of sous vide renders the thick fat cap and ensures a tender steak that is cooked to your preferred level of doneness.

Temperature and cooking times for sirloin cap steak

TemperatureTimeResult
125°F*1-3 hoursRare
130°F1-3 hoursMedium rare
135°F1-3 hoursMedium
145°F1-3 hoursMedium Well
150°F1-3 hoursWell done
*Please note that some of these temperatures are lower than what the FDA recommends. Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness.

Like most sous vide meats, the longer you cook, the more tender your meat will become. Leaving the steak in the water bath for longer than 40 minutes won’t cook the meat beyond your desired doneness but it will affect the texture. Sirloin cap behaves similarly to rump steak when cooked, however, the large piece of fat on the top might require some additional cooking time to render properly.

If you prefer a leaner steak, the fat cap can be trimmed or removed entirely.

In terms of timing, our recommended cook times are based on a 1-inch thick steak. If your steak is thicker than 1 inch consider adding about 30 minutes to the cook time.

Follow this link to find out more information about Suvie cooking times and temperatures

Ingredients and Tools

  • Sirloin cap steak (at least 1 inch thick)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Herbs or additions

Equipment

  • Suvie or immersion circulator
  • A large pot (if using an immersion circulator)
  • Vacuum sealer and bags or freezer safe recloseable bags
  • A heavy, preferably cast iron, pan or a grill

Directions

If you’re using a sous vide immersion circulator, pre-heat your water bath to the desired temperature.

Season the steak generously on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place the steak into the plastic bag along with any herbs or additions and vacuum seal. If you’re using a recloseable bag, follow our guide on the water displacement method

Lower the bag into the water bath and leave until cooked.

If you are using Suvie place the bag into a Suvie pan and cover completely with water. Place in Suvie and use the following settings:

My Cook > Multi-Zone Settings

Protein: 125-150°F, 1-3 hours depending on the desired doneness (or follow our protein cooking guide)

Vegetable: 0 minutes

Starch: 0 minutes

Once the cook is done remove the bag from your Suvie or water bath. 

Finishing

Remove the steak from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. 

Pan Sear

Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a cast-iron pan over high heat. Avoid using olive oil as it has a low smoke point.

Once the oil begins to smoke and shimmer, add the steak. and cook without moving for 15 seconds.

Flip steaks and repeat on the opposite side for 15 seconds. Continue flipping steaks in 15-second intervals until both sides are well browned. Using a set of tongs press the fat cap portion of the steak against the pan until it is well browned.

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes.

Grill

In Brazil, sirloin cap is traditionally cooked on a grill so this is an ideal cut to finish over a hot fire.

Simply sear on a hot grill for between 1-2 minutes on each side, flipping often. Be sure to also grill the fat cap of the steak.

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes.

Recipes to try

Seared Steak with Asparagus, Mashed Potatoes, and  Romesco Sauce

Carne Asada

Chimichurri Steak

Steak au Poivre with Smashed Potatoes

Chipotle Skirt Steak

FAQs

Are the cooking temperatures safe?

Our recommended cooking temperatures for Sous vide and Suvie are lower than what the USDA recommends, however, cooking times and temperatures are long enough and high enough for “pasteurization” to make your food safe. The USDA recommendations indicate the temperature needed to instantly kill food pathogens. By cooking for a longer time at a lower temperature we are able to achieve the same effect. However, high-risk populations should use extra caution when preparing foods below the USDA recommended temperatures.

Where can I get vacuum sealed proteins?

If you don’t want to fuss with vacuum sealers and recloseable bags you can skip the store and order the Suvie Protein Box. Just put together your ideal combination of preseasoned, portioned, and vacuum-packed high-quality meat, poultry, or fish. We deliver it to you frozen in a carefully-packed box.

Can I use any type of plastic bag?

You can, however, make sure that they are made from polyethylene. Brand name recloseable bags are made using polyethylene which is a BPA and dioxin free plastic that can safely handle sous vide cooking temperatures up to 190°F. Some generic branded plastic bags are made using cheaper polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which cannot handle high temps and contains chemicals that can leach into food.

Should I leave my steak to rest before serving? 

Nope! One of the great things about cooking with Suvie and sous vide is the evenness of temperature. While the outer edges will be hotter from the sear, the interior of the steak will be cooked to the same temperature throughout. This means no resting time is necessary. 

I forgot to defrost my steak, what now?

No problem! You can sous vide steak directly from frozen. Just add 1 hour to the cooking time. 

Can I cool my steak after the sous vide process and sear it later?

For food safety and general food quality reasons, we don’t recommend it. Steak should be seared and eaten soon after the sous vide step.

Can I leave my steak in the water bath indefinitely? 

You can, but you shouldn’t. While leaving steak in sous vide for long periods of time won’t result in overcooking, it will have a negative effect on the overall texture of the meat.

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