Where’s the Fraldinha? Also, known as the Churrasco Flank Steak.
Picanha and Fraldinha are both super popular choices for barbecuing in Brazil. While they both pack a supremely beefy flavor, it’s that nice fat layer on the Picanha that renders while it is cooking. This makes Picanha a hunk of meat so juicy that you could practically squeeze it in a glass. If you have such inclinations, i.e.. Please don’t do that unless you are on juice diet, then by all means…
Fraldinha (Churrasco Flank Steak) is much leaner than Picanha. And it forms an amazing crust while keeping the inside nice and pink. Fraldinha, if prepared correctly over very high heat, is the meat that you will think of when remembering that fun afternoon in the sun. The classic rich beef flavor enhanced by a thick salt coating. One that keeps the juicy beef essence from overflowing onto the hot coals.
Fraldinha doesn’t directly correlate to a North American Cut
Much like Picanha, Fraldinha is a Brazilian cut of beef that does not directly correlate to a well known North American cut. Fraldinha means different things to different butchers, chefs, and backyard barbecue enthusiasts. Often Fraldinha is translated as flank steak. Or a flap meat (a literal translation) or a bottom sirloin. They also call them a London Broil. To those who want to pick a culinary bone, London Broil is a preparation method rather than a particular cut of cow. Flank is a relatively tough cut. They take it from just above the belly/udder area and often marinate them overnight and grill quickly over high heat. Just as in London Broil or fajitas.
Flank, while more traditional, requires some attentiveness and would do well on a triple armed skewer. While bottom sirloin, a much thicker cut, would be just fine on a single skewer. Meaning, it needs less vigilance on the part of the host. The Churrasco flank steak is closer to traditional Fraldinha, while bottom sirloin is easier to cook, and a decent replacement.
The preparation of Fraldinha is very simple – just skewer your slab of meat, salt heavily on both sides using rock salt or course kosher salt, place directly over the hottest part of the fire for a few minutes on each side, brush the excess salt off, then cut in thin slivers against the grain. This is simply one of the most satisfying foods ever and will earn you legendary bbq status among your friends.
Need another recipe? Check out the Fraldinha or the Churrasco Flank Steak recipe in The Latin Kitchen.