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Francesinha do Inglês! How to make your very own Little French Girl & then Die of a Heart Attack!

May 22, 2011

I am going to start by saying that making this Sandwich probably qualifies as self harm, it leaves you dizzy, sick and uncertain, but at the same time, you will be happy and know you have undergone a special experience known only to those from the North of Portugal. After a few days time, you will probably even want another one!

The name is Francesinha, or the Little French Girl, and it is something like a bastardized Croque-monsieur, I do not know it’s origins, inventor or history, but I am very glad it exists and I got to taste it in Porto with friends! if you google “Francesinha recipe” you will get a slew of results explaining how there are a huge variety of recipes, but at the same time, 90% of them will be reposts of this particular recipe, which is no good, if there are a wide variety of recipes, you should be trying different styles of this amazing sandwich, and on that note, here is what I had for breakfast today!

In a slight change to this recipe, my friend Pedro suggests  making the sauce several hours in advance and then letting it simmer till very thick, so please do it that way!

– Recipe –

Feeds 2

– Sauce –

1 Onion, 4 Cloves Garlic, 2 tablespoons Butter, 2 Bay leaves, 1 bottle light Beer (lager), 3 tablespoons Tomato Purée, a small glug of good Whiskey, 1 cube Beef Stock, Chili flakes to taste


– Main –

4 thick slices White Bread, 2 thin Grilling Steaks, 200g Ham (Salty, smoked, Sweet, any kind as long as it is good quality), Sausage (6 chipolates, Linguiça, Chouriço, whatever you can get, but again, go for quality), other meats like sliced Pork or whatever you may happen to like (But Pedro says never chicken, or else!), 200-400g  melting Cheese (Emmental, Chedder etc.), a nice finishing (Prawns, Dried Tomato, Parsley Sprigs)

  1. Begin by tossing some French Fries in a little Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and Herb Mix. Put to roast at gas mark 6 for roughly half an hour, tossing 15 minutes in.
  2. Chop the Onion and Garlic and fry them with the Butter on a high heat till golden. While they are frying, pan cook the Sausages (slice in half lengthways if using thick Sausages) and then reserve. Add the Beer and other ingredients to the sauce and then let it simmer on a low heat.
  3. When the French Fries are nearly done, rub the meat slices (if using) with Salt and Pepper and then quickly flash fry them till golden and cooked through, one minute or so on each side. Reserve. Rub the Steaks in Salt, Pepper and Olive Oil, fry for no more than one minute on each side, pressing down on them with a spatula.
  4. Lightly toast all of the Bread and then place one slice on each of the plates. Put the Steak on top, then the sliced Meats, Sausages and then Ham, add a few Cheese slices if you like. Put the other slices of Bread on top and then press down to flatten the whole thing. Cover over with the Cheese Slices.
  5. Take down the oven temperature to about 70C, remove the cooked French Fries and reserve. Put the plates in, with the garnish on top of each sandwich (if using Prawns as a garnish, dont forget to sear them first!) and then place in the oven to melt the Cheese, about 5 minutes.
  6. Strain the Sauce, taste and then season it. Take the plates out of the oven, mound French Fries around the Francesinhas and then ladle the Sauce all over the top (let it pool 🙂 )

Serve with Beer and enjoy! Don’t forget to lie down for a while after eating!

  1. Pedro permalink

    Just a little clarification..For the sauce to be denser, think on putting just a bit of strong alchool…Whisky works best.
    For the meats…Jesus Tom…NO CHICKEN!…At least in the tipical francesinha, only use pork…=p

  2. Pedro permalink

    The sauce is better if you prepare in advance and reduce it slowly for a couple of hours…And if you slightly toast the bread, it comes even nicer…=)

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