All of you sandwich lovers, keep reading; in this post, we’ll introduce you to Francesinha, one of the world’s most delicious sandwiches. Here, we’ll share the traditional Francesinha recipe, the history of this delicious sandwich that’s also known as “heart attack on a plate”, the local variations, and much more.
But let’s start from the beginning…
What Is Francesinha?
Francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich that has its origins in the city of Porto. Its name translates to ‘small French girl’ but trust me, there’s nothing small about this sandwich. It’s actually one of the biggest sandwiches I tried (at least in Europe) and one of my personal favorite European street food snacks.
As for its ingredients, the sandwich consists of pieces of beef steak, French sausages, and cured meat topped with cheese and beer sauce, usually served with French fries. Francesinha is very popular in Porto and there are a few restaurants and eateries that claim to make the best Francesinha in Porto. If you’re like me, you’re gonna want to try all of them and decide for yourself.
According to several different historical sources, the creation of the Francesinha recipe is linked to one, Daniel da Silva somewhere around the early 1950s. According to this, da Silva was a cook who spent some time living in France where he got inspired by the croque-monsieur and tried to make a Portuguese version of it while working in the restaurant A Regaleira in Porto. The sandwich and the restaurant quickly became a hit and the rest is history, speaking of which…
I guess one could say that Francesinha and Porto had a love at first sight. The sandwich became very popular very quickly, in fact so much that it developed a deeper association with the city of Porto, even though today, you can find it in other places in Portugal. Francesinha quickly got a reputation of working-class sandwich, an association that was never that strong in other Portuguese cities as it was in Porto. Today, Francesinha isn’t strictly a working-class sandwich but rather one of Porto’s most popular Francesinha, equally beloved by locals and tourists alike.
Throughout the years, many different slight variations to the original Francesinha recipe have appeared and many restaurants have slightly different ways of making this delicious sandwich. However, the two most popular variations of the Francesinha recipe are Francesinha especial and Francesinha poveira. The first one differs from the original recipe by having slightly different filling (i.e. pastrami, tuna, cod, and some vegetarian options) and an egg on top of the sandwich while the second one is a drier version that uses a slightly different bread and can be eaten by hand without making a mess of yourself.
In addition to this, you can also find
Pica-pau which is a breadless version of Francesinha in which a steak is cut into tiny pieces topped with cheese and sauce, usually served with toothpicks;
And seafood Francesinha, which uses different kinds of seafood (mostly shrimps and tuna) instead of meat and can be found in a handful of eateries around Porto.
Where To Try Francesinha?
I have visited Porto on numerous occasions and every time I’m in town, Francesinha is one of the first things I have. I tried this delicious sandwich at several different places in Porto (all of which claim to have ‘the best Francesinha’ in Porto, and here’s a shortlist of my favorites.
- Café Abaco (for Francesinha especial);
- Café Barcelona; (amazing Franchesinha with prawns and shrimps);
- Restaurante Cunha (one of the largest Franchesinhas in Porto);
- A Cascata (a tasty Francesinha with mushrooms and cream);
- Capa Negra II (Francesinha with shrimps and delicious mini-Francesinhas);
- Cervejaria Brasão (a solid Franchesinha and a very nice collection of draught beers);
- Lado B Café (their menu actually states they make the best Franchesinha in the world);
- Bufete Fase (Franchesinhas are the only thing on their menu);
Why Should You Try It?
Many reputable magazines, most notably AOL Travel, Culture Trip, and Conde Nast Traveller have proclaimed Francesinha as one of the 10 best sandwiches in the world. Not that you should always listen to these guys but most of the time, they know what they’re talking about. Now, you can add The Food Hog to this list, I would even put it in my top 5 if not even higher!
Traditionally, Franchesinha is served alongside some French fries and a glass of cold, draught beer or a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. Eating this sandwich is always messy because the sauce leaks out after every bite but you can always use the sauce on the side to dip your French fries because the Francesinha sauce makes everything taste better. And if you still happen to feel hungry after having this monster of a sandwich, you can round up your meal with a delicious sweet pastry like pastel de nata.
If you like European Sandwiches, also check out some of our other recipes:
A Few Things You May Need
- 3 Smoked Pork Sausages
- 3 Thin Pieces of Steak, tenderized
- 3 Cured Pork Sausages (linquica)
- 6 slices Ham
- 15 Slices of Cheese
- 6 Slices Stale Bread
- 3 eggs
- 2 Small Onions, chopped
- 6 Garlic Cloves, crushed
- 400 ml Beef Stock
- 240 ml Beer BBQ Sauce
- 2 Fresh Chilies, crushed
- 1 Small tomato, diced
- 1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
- Little bit of Pork Fat
- Splash of Milk (for thickening)
- Splash of White Wine (optional)
- Salt and Black Pepper (according to your preference)
1. Cut the sausages lengthwise and cut the steak into thin slices and season with salt and pepper.
2. Grill the sausages and the steaks (until medium-rare).
3. While the meat is being grilled, you can start making the sauce.
4. Chop the onions and garlic and fry it in a pan with some butter, olive oil, bay leaves, and pork fat (for this, you can also use bacon grease).
5. After 2-3 minutes, add the chopped tomato, chillies, and beer sauce, and stir well.
6. After 10 minutes, add the beef stock and some milk (to increase density) and let it cook for another 10-15 minutes.
7. Remove the bay leaves and blend the sauce in a blender until it becomes smooth.
8. Preheat the oven and start shaping the sandwich. It goes like this: a slice of bread, a slice of cheese, a ham, steak, another two slices of cheese, sausages. In the end, add the second slice of bread and press it.
9. At the top, add the remaining slices of cheese and add the sandwich in the oven.
10. After the cheese melts, crack an egg on the top and finally, pour the hot sauce on top of and around the sandwich.
11. Serve it alongside some French fries (they can be added in the
sauce on the side) and a cold beer and enjoy!
Serving Size:1 Sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1150Total Fat: 50gSaturated Fat: 25gTrans Fat: 1.3gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 182mgSodium: 3802mgCarbohydrates: 71gNet Carbohydrates: 71gFiber: 2.9gSugar: 14.5gSugar Alcohols: 4.5gProtein: 55g
Did you ever try Francesinha? How did you like our Francesinha recipe? Feel free to share your thoughts below and if you tried making this sandwich at home using our recipe, don’t forget to leave us a rating.
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