Tapa de nalga (top round cap/topside cap) is the cap of the top round cut that comes from the round primal cut. The various cuts from the round primal are fairly tough and lack intra-muscular fat, therefore, are better off left to slow cooking. Due to the lack of fat, round’s cuts are great for milanesas or beef jerky and top round in particular is a good subsitute for brisket when making pastrami. Top round is usually sold “cap off” in many countries, with the cap discarded for other purposes, leaving a nice clean “roast” of top round. However, this is Argentina and discarded cuts tend to make their way on to the parrilla. Tapa de nalga is not a leading parrilla cut but it turns out reasonably well if cooked properly.
Buying: In Argentina tapa de nalga is typically sold as wide strips similar to vacio (flank steak)–either by guesstimated weight or width. For those of you outside of Argentina, you may need to special order this cut from the butcher. Due to the toughness of the meat you want to get at least a somewhat large slab in order to cook it nice and slow. About 10 cm or (4 in.) in width or 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs.) is a good starting point. Top round cap lacks a lot of intra-muscular fat so leave the thin layer of fat on the top side but trim much of the silver-skin membrane off on the other side. This will help to keep the meat moist.
Cooking: Sprinkle both sides with coarse salt and place over a medium fire (you can hold hand over the fire comfortably for 5-6 seconds). At least 30-45 minutes per side for medium/medium well.
Behind the Scenes: While lining up a shot with the camera’s lcd screen, I spotted a little face in the background spying on me and just had to take a photo. Although her behavior is much much better these days, she does have a criminal history and I’m still hesitant to turn my back.