Rotisserie Flank Steak, Churrascaria style (Fraldinha)


I am always looking for new rotisserie recipes. That is part of why I started this blog; when I was searching the internet for rotisserie recipes, I couldn't find them. One of the few sources of rotisserie recipes has been Steven Raichlen, both in his cookbooks and on his TV show. When he turned his sights on Brazil in Planet Barbecue, I was in heaven. Brazil's famous churrascarias spit roast all their meat on the rotisserie, and turn out some of the most famous barbecued meat in the world.
*Get it?  "Turn" out?  I amuse myself.

Rotisserie flank steak jumped out at me from the pages of Planet Barbecue. I never thought about cooking flank steak on the rotisserie; it seemed way too thin to get the crispy, browned crust that is the mark of a good rotisserie recipe. After reading Steven's recipe, and seeing the pictures on the Fogo de Chao website, I had to give rotisserie flank steak a try.

The steaks they had at my local grocery store were thin, even for flank steaks.  Would it brown enough before it overcooked?
*For me, anything past medium is overcooked.

Stephen hadn't led me wrong. The rotisserie gave it a browned crust, particularly at the edges, and it was cooked to a perfect, warm pink medium in the middle. When topped with a sharp, vinegary Brazilian salsa, the result was a steak I'm going to make again.

Recipe: Rotisserie Flank Steak, Churrascaria style (Fraldinha)

Adapted From: Steven Raichlen Planet Barbecue

Equipment:

Ingredients:
  • 1 flank steak, 1 1/2 lbs or larger (thicker is better)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Brazilian Salsa (optional, but a great flavor boost for the beef)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed and cored
  • 1/2 medium red onion, trimmed and peeled
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Directions:
1. Prepare the flank steak: Attach the flank steak lengthwise to the rotisserie spit and forks. I run the spit and forks through each end of the flank steak, about 1 inch in from each edge, and secure it with the forks. (See picture below). Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the steak.

2. Prepare the grill: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turning the infrared burner to high. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners, and let the grill preheat for ten to fifteen minutes. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)

3. Prepare the salsa: While the grill is heating, I prepare the salsa with my food processor. First, put the parsley leaves in the processor and and process with 1 second pulses until finely minced. Then add the red bell pepper, cut into chunks, and process with 1 second pulses until it is finely minced. Next, add the red onion, cut into chunks (again), and process with 1 second pulses until it is finely minced (again). Add the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and pulse a few times to combine, then add the olive oil and process for for 10 to 20 seconds or until completely mixed.
*Don't have a food processor? Mince the parsley, bell pepper and red onion, then combine in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, and stir to combine.



4. Cook the flank steak: Put the spit on the grill, start the rotisserie motor, and cook with the lid closed. Cooking time will be 10 to 15 minutes for medium; a good rule of thumb is 10 minutes of cooking time per inch of thickness.
*The best way to determine the doneness is with an instant read thermometer. The flank steak will be medium when it measures 130*F internal temperature at its thickest point. When checking the temperature, watch out for the spit and the forks, because they will throw the reading off; aim for the center mass of the flank steak.


5. Serve: Remove the steak from the spit, and rest for at least ten minutes before carving. Cut the steak across the grain into thin slices, 1/4" to 1/2" thick. Top the slices with some of the salsa and serve, passing the rest of the salsa on the side.

Notes:
The key to this recipe is getting the biggest flank steak you can find. The longer the steak cooks, the better; more time on the grill leads to a better browned crust on the steak. I bought the thickest flank steak at my local grocery store, but it was only 1.5 lbs, which isn't all that big. Next time I'm going to one of my local specialty stores to get a thicker steak. My steak was about 1 inch thick; if you can find a thicker flank steak, increase the cooking time by about 5 minutes per half-inch of thickness.

*Another tip from Mr. Raichlen is to find a steak with as much fat on it as possible. I've never seen a flank steak with much fat on it, but I'll pass the tip along in case you get lucky.

*The key to this recipe is high heat. I think you should only do this recipe if you have a charcoal grill, or a dedicated infrared rotisserie burner on your gas grill. It will be hard to get enough heat to brown the flank steak without one or the other; a regular gas grill will struggle to generate enough heat. (If you give it a try on one, let me know about it in the comments; I want to hear how it went.)

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Sources for fatty flank steaks in the Akron area? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Picanha - Rotisserie Top Sirloin Steaks
Rotisserie Chicken Legs
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.

Adapted from:
Steven Raichlen Planet Barbecue



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Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This looks great! Can you tell us about the potatoes in the drip pan?
Thanks!!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

Those are rotisserie pan smashed redskin potatoes - I am still working on my recipe. If you can't wait, follow the instructions here:
Rotisserie Side Dish Potatoes

...but use new potatoes, and smash them with a potato masher before putting them in the drip pan.

Chris Clauson said...

Wicked good!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thank you, Chris!

Alheres said...

Hi I know this entry is already a little old but anyway, I have been trying to cook Fraldinha as well for a while... and found this blog... I cooked it initially as the one you show here. However after more research watching Brazilian videos and following butcher codes I believe flank steak as we get it here in the US is what Brazilians known as "Bife do Vazio" , which they do not use for rodizios... instead they actually use a part of the bottom sirloin.

The bottom of sirloin we get here contains the famous tri-tip as well as other parts. The American code is NAMP 185-A, also known as flap steak or bavette. This is the closest one we can get to the brazilian fraldinha, however I suspect Brazilian butchers cut it even a little bit different.

Wikipedia shows flank steak as being the same as bavette, but I believe it is partially wrong. You can tell by the direction of the grain in the meat and the amount of fat it contains. The typical US flank steak will be cut with the grain following its longest side. You can see that typical Brazilian fraldinhas will have the grain following the shortest side (similar to a skirt steak)...

That may be reason why Reichlen advice is to get one with fat... Flank steaks as normally cut in the US will never contain enough as there in nowhere to grab it. But the flap/bavette can in fact get it easily

http://www.washco-agmarket.net/pdfs/bottom-sirloin-cuts.pdf

I also found a document with several equivalencies between American, Brazilian and Australian cuts done by some Brazilians

http://www.aval-online.com.br/artigostecnicos/artigos/ICoMST_2003.pdf

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Alheres:

Thank you, that's great information!

LAG said...

try flap steak - it is the cut Fogo uses.... I just wish I could find what they rub or marinate with!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thanks for the tip - I'll keep an eye out for it.

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