All about coulotte steak and how to cook it on the grill, stove top or the oven.
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Read on for relevant information and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
What is Coulotte Steak?
Coulotte steak is a very flavorful boneless cut of steak endowed with a rich beefy taste. It is impressive when prepared with just a bit of salt.
Even though considered a lean cut, coulotte steak is exceptionally tender and has excellent marbling. Another name for it is top sirloin cap steak after the beef muscle it is carved from.
The scientific name of this muscle is biceps femoris and it is seamed from the top sirloin butt it caps, along with the thick layer of fat covering it. Due to its shape coulotte is often confused with tri-tip, but they are not the same. (Tri-tip comes from the bottom sirloin butt and is tougher in comparison).
Coulotte Steak vs Picanha
Picanha steak, the star of churrasco in Brazil, comes from the same primal cut of beef as coulotte. The two sirloin steaks are essentially the same thing, nothwithstanding a couple of minor differences.
Name. In Portuguese the top sirloin cap is known as picanha and the steak carved from it shares the name.
Thickness of the fat cap. Coulotte usually has a thin layer of fat capping it (more of it has been trimmed) versus picanha.
Style of preparation. While a coulotte steak can be prepared in a number of ways, authentic picanha steak is always grilled skewered and over charcoals – see this picanha steak recipe.
How to Cut Coulotte Steak from a Whole Top Sirloin Cap
If you purchased whole beef coulotte you can quickly portion it into steaks. The average weight of the muscle is three pounds and easily yields four thick steaks.
Begin by trimming excess fat by gently carving it out with a knife. The fat covering the top sirloin cap is very firm and this makes the task easy. If there is silver skin on the bottom of side of the meat, remove it. (Usually this has been done by the butcher).
Next, cut off the tips in order to arrive at a more uniform shape and cut it into steaks. You can sear or grill the tips for a test taste (so rewarding!).
TIP: Try to cut the coulotte against the grain, into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch thick steaks.
How to Cook Coulotte Steak
This steak is best cooked over high heat for a brief time because it does not contain connective tissue. The naturally tender meat comes to temperature fast and remains juicy.
Grilling is by far the best way to prepare a coulotte, followed by searing it in a hot pan and slow roasting a whole coulotte roast, to be carved into thick slices.
Grilled Coulotte Steak Recipe
- The flavorful fat cap of coulotte is the perfect complement to its unique, rich taste. As it melts and hits the charcoals it creates a savory smoke that infuses the meat on its way up.
- Grill a coulotte steak over very hot, ash white charcoals as shown above. By way of preparation all you have to do is season it – it could be simply salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning.
- Once the temperature reaches 135 F and the surface is beautifully seared, including the delicious fat cap, you can move the coulotte off the grates and let it rest. It tastes best when cooked medium-rare to medium. Use a meat thermometer during grilling.
- Serve with grilled vegetables or parboiled then grilled potatoes for a complete experience.
Pan Seared Coulotte
Searing a coulotte steak in a skillet is just as easy.
For best results use a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. After you heat it for about 2-3 minutes add a bit of olive oil, just enough to form a thin film over the surface.
Sear the salt and black pepper seasoned coulotte for about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of each individual steak. Be sure to sear the side with the fat cap too – it will bubble up and get a beautiful crispy coating. Once the internal temeprature reaches 135 F, rest the steaks, tented with foil if you’d like.
A coulotte roast is a whole top sirloin cap roast and typically weighs around 3 pounds, including the generous fat layer covering the extremely tender meat.
It is best to cook it at a low oven temperature until the internal temperature reaches about 110 F and then finish it by way of a high temperature broil. Factor in an extensive rest meant to stabilize the natural juices of the roast before you slice it against the grain. Use this recipe if interested.
Other Ideas to Cook Beef Coulotte Steaks
The tender beef texture of the top sirloin cap makes it suitable for beef skewers, steak sandwiches, fajitas or steak tacos when cut into strips. While it does not need much seasoning beyond salt and pepper it is receptive to an array of flavors and you can be creative.
You Might Enjoy
- 3 lbs coulotte steak (top sirloin cap) with fat cap*
- salt and pepper to taste (or steak seasoning)
- 1/2 tbsp neutral cooking oil (only if pan searing)
GRILLED COULOTTE STEAK
Season the steaks generously, including the fat cap.
Grill over hot gas grill (or ash white charcoals, much tastier) for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until the internal temperature is 135 F.
Rest the steak before slicing against the grain.
PAN SEARED COULOTTE STEAK
Season the steaks generously, including the fat cap.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high. When hot, add the cooking oil and sear steaks in batches of two. Cook each side for 2 to 3 minutes until the internal temperature gets to 135 F. Do not forget to sear the fat cap to help it crisp up and turn golden in color.
Rest the steaks (you may tent with foil) before serving.
OVEN COULOTTE STEAK
Generously season the whole coulotte roast on all sides.
Preheat the oven to 250 F. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 110F.
Place the coulotte as far from the broiler as possible and broil at 475-500 F. Watch it closely and if needed lower the temperature a bit. The meat will gradually take on a deep golden brown color and the fat cap will bubble and crisp up. After 15 to 20 minutes the internal temperature should be 135 F.
Rest the roast very well (15 mins), tented, before carving it against the grain to serve.
*Cut into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inch thick steaks. A typical coulotte roast yields 4 steaks. Consult the body of the article for pictures and tips on the best approach to do so.
The nutritional info is overstated as it assumes all of the fat cap is consumed.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 961Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 330mgSodium: 251mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 89g