The Francesinha is essentially just slabs of bread stuffed with meat and cheese, but Portuguese chefs are reluctant to share their technique.
Few foods in Portugal inspire such heated debate as the Francesinha, essentially a toastie pimped to epic proportions and smothered in a rich, meaty sauce. The name, which roughly translates as “Little Frenchie,” might suggest a dainty and delicate dish, but this sandwich is as hearty and hardcore as it gets.
The Francesinha’s origins are somewhat hazy, but it’s said to be a distant relative of the croque monsieur that Portuguese migrants to France fell in love with during the 1950s and 60s, and adapted to their own meaty tastes on returning to Porto, a coastal town to the north of the country.
There are variations on the theme, but the classic Francesinha involves thick slabs of rough-cut bread, between which lie slices of steak, ham, and at least two types of sausage. The whole lot is draped in slices of mild cheese, topped with a fried egg, smothered in sauce, and served with a giant plate of chips.