Tuesday 17 November 2015

Francesinha/Portuguese club sandwich

The Francesinha
The Portuguese Club Sandwich.

Legend has it that  Daniel Da Silva a local Portuguese having returned from France and Belgium missed his Croque Monsieur sandwiches. He decided to make a Portuguese version of this traditional French sandwich with locally available ingredients.  His creativity led to what we now know as the Francesinha or the Little Frenchie. It is also lovingly referred to as Frankie; Not to be mixed up with India's famous street food also called Frankie; a wrap with delicious spicy fillings of meat, chicken or vegetables named Kathi rolls that were predominantly named Frankie by the European Colonisers.

The gravy of the Francesinha is quite unique. Most restaurants serving  Francesinha prepare their own secret recipe which ranks the place popular or not! It is natural that every Francesinha will taste a little bit different depending on the person cooking, but nevertheless it's always a wonderful experience to eat like a local. Porto in Portugal is the place most popular for this delicacy. 

Popularity of this sandwich over the decades has made it available  with different fillings. You can find it with shrimps and vegetables as well as simple hot dogs dunked in gravy, which are more popular at food stands in game arenas.

The Francesinha, adapted from the French sandwich Croque Monsieur

For The Gravy

The gravy recipes is made up to suit your personal taste from hot to mild. However the basic recipe will need the following. 

1 tbsp brown sugar
2 medium Onions
3 cloves fresh Garlic 
125gm/4 oz of bacon cut in very small pieces
salt to taste
1 dry bay leaf
6 tbsp Tomato paste
3/4 cup  Vino Verde
1/4 cup each of port, whisky and cognac
1 cup beer
1 cup of chicken stock mixed with 1 tbsp of corn starch/cornflour

Optionally: A few dashes of Piri Piri sauce.

In a deep pot heat the sugar and caramelise the onions with the bacon pieces. Chop and add the garlic and a dash of salt.  Stir in the tomato paste. Pour in all the liquids and the bay leaf. Stir and bring it to a boil. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for at least 45 minutes. Now remove the bay leaf. With a blender pulverise the sauce to a thick gravy. It is generally quite smooth and passed through a seive. Add a few dashes of Piri Piri to make it spicy if you like.

To make a traditional Francesinha sandwich you will need the Linguica sausage with its wonderful flavors, slices of roasted pork, sweet ham,a minute steak, a slice of cheese, preferably a queijo. Topped with the gravy and a fried egg. Some serve it with fries over the gravy; similar to the Poutine in Canada.

For 6 sandwiches

6 eggs

12 thick slices of bread
6 thick slices of Queijo cheese
6 thick slices of roast pork
6 thick slices of honey roast ham
optionally 6 flat lightly salted minute steaks, pan-fried for a minute on each side on a nob of butter.

Toast the bread and 
layer one slice of each cheese, pork and ham on the bread top with the second toast.

Grill it on both sides on a hot skillet, pressing it down. Place each of the sandwiches on a plate. 
Fry the eggs. Pour a ladle each of warm gravy over each sandwich and place an egg on top of each one.
Optionally add a large slice of cheese over the toasted sandwich before pouring the gravy and egg!! It will melt down to the sides.
Serve immediately.


This quantity will make a lot of gravy. It can freeze  well. 
Save in batches according to your requirements.
Vino Verde is a local wine.
The Quijeo is a local Portuguese cheese which is made on the island of Azores. It has a variety of the same name and the one used for this dish is closest to a semi soft cheese that can be sliced and melts well. Edam or your personal may be the best substitute for this cheese. I would pick the horseradish cheddar for myself.

For other recipes from Niloufer's Kitchen download read.amazon.com

Niloufer'sKitchen: Spanish Tapas
Niloufer's Kitchen: French Bistro

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