Top Sirloin Cap ready for BBQ
by Konstantin @ flickr
Whether you are a steak expert or not, there is a chance that you may have overlooked one of the most exquisite steak gems that exist: The sirloin cap.
If you are looking to expand your knowledge on one of the most favored yet slightly underrated cuts of stake, you are in the right place.
Origin of the sirloin cap
To fully appreciate the Sirloin Cap, you must first understand where this cut comes from. From an anatomy standpoint, Sirloin steaks originate from the most prominent muscle of the Sirloin, a continuation of the short loin.
Therefore, the Sirloin is located in the same primal as the short loin. Together, they are known as the ‘loin.’ Beyond the Sirloin, you find the short loin, rib, and then chuck.
Although it often does not get the appreciation they deserve, the Sirloin is where popular well-performing cuts originate. When divided into two parts, the sirloin complex produces the top and the bottom sirloins (known as the Top Sirloin Butt and Bottom Sirloin Butt).
Introducing the Top Sirloin
At this point, you should have realized that the Sirloin and top Sirloin cuts are different. As the name suggests, the top Sirloin resides at the top of the sirloin part of the carcass.
We recommend asking the butcher for the first cut when buying top Sirloin. This portion is closest to the cow’s front end, which will be the most delicious Top Sirloin cut. There is also the option of further cutting top sirloin filet steaks, which look similar to tenderloin.
Despite being a naturally lean and thick cut of steak compared to other steak cuts, top Sirloin is known to be tender with a robust beefy flavor.
The top Sirloin is also a complex composed of three main muscles: the Top sirloin Cap, the center cut Sirloin, and the mouse.
Top sirloin cap: The slightly undervalued cut
Many tend to think that top Sirloin is the same as sirloin cap, but the truth is that they are entirely different beef cuts.
We will start by exploring the sirloin cap’s location within top Sirloin to avoid confusion.
When breaking down a top sirloin, you can see that it is mainly composed of the central portion (the Sirloin) and the most prized “cap” portion.
The Sirloin is a flat and triangular-shaped muscle that extends directly above the top Sirloin and can be easily distinguished by its many centimeters thick layer of fat (located on one side).
On another note, you should be aware that the sirloin cap could be referred to as several Common names, including:
- Top sirloin cap roast/steak
- Sirloin strip
- Culotte (or coulotte) steak.
- Churrasco steak.
- The rump cap
The name ‘Picanha” originated from Brazil, where the top sirloin cap’s popularity started surging.
In Brazilian steakhouses, the top sirloin cap is cut into supreme steaks (referred to as ‘Picanha’). This is achieved by cutting steak from the center of the cap and leaving the outer layer of fat on while cooking.
Brazilian steakhouses present the most prized Picanha as a unique C-shaped steak with its delicate exterior fat that curves along with the meat.
On the other hand, Picanha has been slightly less well known in the United States, where it is often called the top sirloin cap (sometimes culotte or coutlotte, although “rump cap” remains the most accurate translation).
US butchers tend to cut down top Sirloin to other pieces (like round and loin), sacrificing its precious fat cap in the process.
With the cap off, tenderness is sacrificed, and the flavor is altered. It is as if you are eating a totally different piece of meat.
A meat cut with a unique flavor
For those of you who still might be wondering: Is top sirloin cap tasty? You bet it is!
Even though the top Sirloin does not possess as much marbling as a New York strip, it certainly has enough to give a quality flavorful steak.
In particular, the top Sirloin Cap is known to be super tender and delicious (even more delicate and rich in flavor than the top Sirloin), mainly because it has a generous layer of fat, which gives it an unbelievable strong beef flavor.
Actually, a cut you can afford
In general, top sirloin steak is the cheapest, best steak that you want to purchase before having to start sacrificing flavor, tenderness, or both.
However, you should also know that top Sirloin tends to be more valuable and a bit more expensive than the sirloin cut.
You should anticipate paying between $6 and $8 approximately for a pound of top sirloin steak.
Top sirloin steak can be available in stores such Costco, Walmart, and Whole Foods, while you can also opt for online purchase as several markets provide this option (such as the Chicago Steak Company).
Nonetheless, we strongly recommend that you do your research before deciding on a place to buy, as there are stores that you should avoid.
Many have noticed that the prices at Trader Joe’s, for instance, tend to be too high. They can reach around $13 a pound for top Sirloin, which can be considered overpriced. Other vendors can offer better value. As such, we especially recommend monitoring for sales.
The top sirloin cap cuts (Picanha steaks) can go for even higher prices going from around 13$ to $40.
Learn to cut your very own top sirloin sap steak
As discussed previously, buying a top sirloin cap steak is always an option.
However, the top sirloin cap is one of the most underappreciated beef cuts because it is typically not sold on its own; you could find yourself having to buy a top sirloin steak to acquire the cap. That’s why learning how to cut it yourself might come in handy.
To remove the top sirloin cap, first, start by rolling the top sirloin cut in a way that ends up sitting on the cap of fat.
From there, you should be able to see a seam of fat connecting the main and secondary of the muscle sections. This is precisely where you must cut through.
The resulting piece should consist of a big top sirloin cap and a tinier muscle resting on top of it.
The smaller muscle must be cut to leave out the triangle-shaped piece, which is the top sirloin cap.
Your portion can be further cut over the meat grain into strip steaks if you prefer.
Distinguish your top sirloin steaks from other popular cuts
It is essential to be able to distinguish between top Sirloin (and the cap) with other popular meat cuts as understanding the difference will demystify the experience of preparing a fantastic steak, especially since different steaks generally require different cooking methods temperatures, and times.
For instance, despite many believing otherwise, Top Sirloin and brisket are not the same.
Beef Brisket comes from forequarter cuts while, as explained, top Sirloin originates from hindquarter cuts.
Mostly, top Sirloin is made into steaks that are perfect for grilling.
On the other hand, brisket is mostly used to make pot roast as well as corned beef.
Another widely known technique for cooking brisket is by slowly cooking it in a smoker or BBQ.
However, unlike a brisket, the top sirloin cap does not need a long time to reach tenderness when smoked (since it does not have a lot of connective tissue). 275 or 300 degrees are widely sufficient.
Similarly, it is critical to distinguish top Sirloin from several other cuts that have the word “sirloin” in the name (out of which we mention sirloin tips, Center Cut Sirloin Steak, Petite Sirloin, etc.). They are generally not as tender as the Top Sirloin.
On the other hand, it is very understandable to confuse the tri-tip cut for the top sirloin cap, given their similar locations.
The capping muscle, in fact, has two sides, a right and a left, where the sirloin cap is located on the opposite side of the tri-tip cut.
The larger side is known as the tri-tip, while the smaller side is the top sirloin cap.
Despite being two different cuts of beef, it is essential to note that the tri-tip can be considered to serve as the perfect replacement for the sirloin cap (and vice-versa), as both are cap muscles that reside on a similar part of the cow’s body.
Versatile and suitable for any occasion
Aside from being an exceptional value and a tasty, economical option, the top sirloin cap is widely known for being incredibly versatile.
The cap can be used in several different delicious ways, including grilling, broiling, sautéing, or even on the BBQ.
The beauty of the sirloin cap lies within its ability to be dry roasted whole as well.
You can even count on the sirloin cap for amusing tricks. For instance, if you choose to cook it whole (in the oven or on the grill), expect it to puff up to reach the size of a football.
The cap can be cut into narrow steaks or wholly cooked, while it is also a good candidate for cutting into large cubes, which will work well for kabobs or stews.
If cut into strips, the cap can also be used to make a fantastic stir-fry or steak sandwiches.
Top sirloin cap steak is a chefs’ favorite worldwide, mainly for juicy grilling as individual cap steaks can even be grilled over high heat.
If so, you will definitely notice that they will end up looking similar to the famous strip steaks.
Perhaps, an even better frequently overlooked way to cook a top sirloin cap is broiling.
Like any other steak, grilling a top sirloin cap steak is never a bad idea. However, Sirloins also do exceptionally well when broiled.
Broiling a steak is much like grilling it; the difference is that the heat is coming from above the grill instead of below.
Here, it is essential to note that whether you choose to broil or grill your sirloin cap steak, beware.
It will often end up being tougher and drier, so take special care of it to avoid overcooking.
Another option we have to touch on is smoking top Sirloin. As it is tender and lean, the Top Sirloin and the cap make a perfect beefy option that works amazingly in the smoker.
The sirloin cap (and the top Sirloin in general) is said to gather smoke flavor quicker than any other type of cut.
Tips and tricks to cook the perfect sirloin cap steak
If you made it this far, congratulations! You are now a top sirloin expert, and it is time to think about cooking options!
Regarding the perfect temperature to cook a sirloin cap steak, it is always recommended to utilize a digital thermometer to know when your steak is done.
You can gauge the thermometer into the thickest part of the sirloin cap steak to ensure that the level of doneness corresponds to your preference (Rare, medium-rare, medium, etc.).
Keep in mind that it is also recommended not to let your meat cook over 150°F, as you will risk it being tough and dry.
You should also let your sirloin cap steak rest for around 5 minutes before you begin serving it, while you should also cover it with foil.
Since steaks continue to cook when they are resting, the best will be that you take your sirloin cap off the heat a few degrees before reaching the desired temperature.
For a hot, juicy, and fully smoky flavored top sirloin steak, all you would need is a gas grill, tin foil, approximately three cups of wood chips to smoke the meat.
You would also need at least 2 pounds (but no more than 3 pounds) of sirloin steak.
If you choose a small amount cut, the steak will pick up little to no smoky flavor, while a huge steak will be too much as the wood chips will burn out before your steak is fully cooked.
Our last tip is in regards to tenderness.
Although it is naturally tender and juicy, the top sirloin cap is best seasoned or marinated using a dry rub before broiling, grilling, or pan searing for the best results.
Pro tip: For perfect moisture, it is recommended to finish a sirloin cap steak at medium-rare doneness.
Simple top sirloin recipes to get you started
Hopefully, to get you inspired, we have chosen to share some of our favorite and straightforward top Sirloin-related recipes with you.
1. Grilled sirloin cap steak
Get ready to take a bite of the juiciest, most delicious grilled steak recipe!
It is recommended for this recipe to use a cast iron pan if you have one.
- Start by heating the cast iron pan.
- Season your steak on both sides (Salt and pepper are mostly sufficient).
- Preheat your oven to around 425°F.
- Drizzle avocado oil in the pan.
- Put the steak’s fat side down onto the pan.
- Sear each side for at least 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place the whole cast iron pan in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Finally, let the steak rest, then slice and serve!
2. Seared & roasted top Sirloin
- Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat two olive oil teaspoons (at medium to high temperature) in a skillet until an almost smoke.
- Now, start searing for around 2 minutes per side.
- To achieve medium-rare, roast the steak in the oven (on each side) for 6 to 8 minutes.
Note: Always adjust cooking time according to the steak’s size and your doneness preference.
3. Broiled Top Sirloin
- Start by cutting down your top sirloin steak into portions. Keep in mind that it is less challenging to flip a smaller cut when broiling.
- To boost the browning, lightly brush steaks with vegetable (preferably olive) oil while you rub it, then season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat your broiler to a high temperature for a few minutes.
- Begin by broiling the top sirloin steak’s first side. While it cooks for a minute or two, carefully monitor it, as broiling tends to be tricky at first.
- Once the first side has achieved a perfect brown exterior, move on to broiling the opposite side of the top sirloin steak.
- Finally, make sure to let your top sirloin steak rest for a couple of minutes before you start serving. Also, do not forget to slice against the meat’s grain after identifying it.
Note: Always use a digital thermometer. This will allow you to monitor the steak’s internal temperature, making that you remove it at the exact temperature you desire.
Spice up your top sirloin recipes
The sirloin cap is tasty on its own; however, you can always add extra flavorings and sauces to tailor it to your preference.
For instance, a good BBQ Sauce is always a good idea. You can also add well-seasoned mushrooms (with salt and pepper) to serve with your steak.
Ending our top sirloin encyclopedia on this note, what is not to love about top sirloin meat?
A favorite grilling steak that cooks well with various types of sauces and marinades adds excellent flavor to countless recipes while it remains as delicious on its own.
Also, lean enough and not too expensive enough to be enjoyed by everyone everywhere.