Picanha beef roast with fig jam and spices

Spiced roast picanha with fig jam.
Spiced roast picanha with fig jam. Photo: Katrina Meynink

This is guaranteed roast success. The sheath of fat that gets spiced and rendered down and then a quick workout in the oven ensures the most gloriously flavoursome, lip-smackingly tender meat for your Christmas spread. The slow cook of spiced fig jam also makes your house smell absolutely glorious. You need to start this recipe 1 day ahead for the spice-party guests to get acquainted.


1.4kg picanha roast*

1 tbsp olive oil

Spice rub

2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly ground

1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly ground

2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp ground coffee

pinch ground cloves

pinch ground cardamom

pinch ground cinnamon

1 tbsp cracked black pepper

Jam coating

280g store-bought fig jam

¼ cup chicken stock


1. Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a bowl. Reserve 2 teaspoons of the spice mix for the jam coating.

2. Add the picanha to a dish that it can properly lay flat in, with the fat cap facing up.

3. Using your hands, gently press the remaining spice mix across the sheath of fat in an even coating. If you find it's not sticking, it's often because the meat is too cold. Allow the thin layer of fat to warm to room temperature and you shouldn't have any issues applying the spices.

4. Place the beef uncovered in the fridge overnight for the flavours to infuse.

5. Bring the beef to room temperature. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 120C fan-forced (140C conventional).

6. Place a large ovenproof frying pan over low heat. Add the olive oil and gently add the picanha, spice side down, and cook for 20 minutes. You want the fat to render at the low temperature, without burning any of the spices.

7. While the roast is cooking, place a small saucepan over low heat. Add the jam, stock and remaining 2 teaspoons of the spice mix, stirring to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

8. Once the fat has rendered, carefully turn the roast over and gently baste the top with the fig jam mixture, reserving about 4-6 tablespoons of the jam for serving. Baste gently to make sure you don't remove the spice crust.

9. Cover the frypan tightly with foil – be careful as the pan will be hot. Pop in the oven for about 1 hour. Check the beef at the 50-minute mark using a thermometer – the internal temperature should be around 65C for medium-rare.

10. Remove from the oven, loosen the foil and place the beef on a board. Loosely cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes before carving.

11. Serve with leftover jam mixture for guests to help themselves.

*Picanha is a hugely popular cut in Brazilian BBQ and for good reason – it has amazing flavour. Taken from the top of the rump, close to the tail, the muscle isn't overused so it is very tender. It is slightly triangular in shape and covered in a thin even layer of fat, known as the fat cap. This cut is becoming more common, and worth a trip to your local butcher.