Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Beef - Brazilian Cuts

One of the more daunting tasks for me has been purchasing beef from the deli. I'm familiar with certain cuts because I could order them from our little Brazilian grocery in the States. But I'm not familiar with all the cuts, and beef in general has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Give me chicken and I'm a Top Chef champion. Give me pork and I can make a couple tasty dishes. Give me beef and I'm lost. 

( Image released to public domain, but credit goes to Wikipedia contributor: Ysangkok )

( By MarioM - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, )

Acem is a cut that I purchase often, because it's fairly cheap. I can normally find it for about R$15.90/kilo. It's also what I choose when I order carne moida (ground beef).

Alcatra is a popular steak for barbecuing and it's similar to a top/bottom sirloin. Throw some rock salt on it and let it rotate over fire on a spit. Cut off the outside pieces as the cook through and you've got yourself some Grade-A Brazilian steaks.

Contrafile is similar to a tenderloin, but admittedly I've never purchased it.

File Mignon is also part of the tenderloin/sirloin area.

Fraldinha is a confluence of short loin, flank, and bottom sirloin.

Maminha is the bottom sirloin or flank cuts.

Paleta is a chuck/brisket cut, so this cut is more for roasting or using in a stew.

Picanha is an especially delicious section of meat, similar to a rump cover or rump cap. It's grilled the same was as Alcatra - covered in rock salt, maybe some spices, rotated over a fire, and cooked pieces are cut off. It's quite expensive here in Brazil, as it's normally around R$50/kilo. We did find a sale during Carnaval that priced it at $R20/kilo. We bought seven kilos and had a three-day-long barbecue with all of our friends. Zero regrets.


  1. I am clueless in meat terms in all languages. So when they ask me which kind of "carne moída" I want, I just say the cheapest! (because I figured if it's the cheapest, it's probably what most people take, thus more chances of being fresh. :P

    1. I ask for THE SAME! I mean it's all going to be ground and slathered with spices anyway, right?

    2. (And I should point out that Acem is usually the cheapest cut in my local grocery store.)