Originating from the north of Portugal, this extravagant sandwich, locally known as the Francesinha, is one-of-a-kind. Literally meaning Frenchie or little Frenchie, this sandwich boasts many decadent ingredients.
The Francesinha is considered to be an adaptation of the French croque-monsieur, a famous boiled or baked ham and cheese sandwich. The Portuguese adaptation became so popular in Porto that it has almost become emblematic of the city. Indeed, locals from Porto will tell you how the sandwich is served in most traditional restaurants, with each place offering its own unique version of the dish.
What is remarkable about the Francesinha is that the recipe of the sauce is secret. No single recipe exists, while each house and restaurant boasts a different version. The single common ingredient in the sauce is beer. Meanwhile, the degree of spiciness varies, as does the colour of the sauce, which ranges between red and orange.
Intrigued? Read on to learn how to make the Francesinha at home. Feel free to experiment and create your own version of this sandwich-extravaganza!
What you need to know
Preparation Time: 50 minutes
Makes: 1 sandwich (with lots of leftover sauce)
For the sandwich:
- 2 slices white bread
- 1 fresh sausage
- 1 small veal stake
- 1 smoked cured pork sausage (linguiça)
- 8 slices chewy cheese
- 2 slices ham
- 1 egg
For the sauce:
- 2 litres of your favourite beer
- 400 ml semi-skimmed milk
- 200 ml tomato paste
- 100 ml whisky, brandy or port
- 1 small bottle Piri Piri sauce, or alternative hot/mild chilli sauce
- 1 small pre-cooked veal steak
- 1 peeled carrot
- 1 thinly chopped onion
- 1 thinly chopped or pressed garlic clove
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cubes meet stock
- 2 tsp cornstarch dissolved in some milk
- Olive oil
Step 1: Prepare the sauce
- Pour a few drops of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium fire.
- Add the onion, garlic clove, carrot and bay leaf. Stir for three minutes.
- Add the meat stock, veal, beer, tomato paste, whisky (or alternative option), milk, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the dissolved cornstarch and bring to boil.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Remove the veal steak and bay leaf from the mixture.
- Add the Piri Piri sauce (or alternative option). Taste to add sauce according to preference.
- Place sauce over low heat to remain warm for serving.
Step 2: Grill the meats
- Place the sausage, linguiça and veal steak on the grill until cooked. Alternatively, you can cook the sausage and linguiça in the oven and the veal steak in a pan.
- Cut the linguiça in four small pieces and slice the sausage in half.
Step 3: Make the sandwich
- Preheat the oven to 120°C
- Add one slice of cheese on top of a slice of bread.
- Add on top: one slice of ham, the four pieces of linguiça, the veal stake, the fresh sausage, another slice of ham and another slice of cheese.
- Add the other slice of bread on top and add a slice of cheese over that.
- Place four slices of cheese on each side of the sandwich, and add another slice of cheese on top.
- Place sandwich in the preheated oven until the cheese melts.
- Meanwhile, fry the egg in a pan.
- Remove the sandwich from the oven. Place the egg on top.
- Pour warm sauce over the sandwich.
- Serve with fries and cold beer. Keep sauce nearby for extra slathering.
Partial Recipe Credits: Portuguese Diner