It’s almost impossible to eat this Portuguese sandwich with your hands.
It’s a giant meat mountain between two slices of toasted bread, smothered in melted cheese, and dripping in a special tomato beer sauce. It’s called the Francesinha, or “little Frenchie.”
Traditionally, the sandwich is packed with meats like ham, mortadella, steak, and linguiça, which is a type of Portuguese sausage. Sometimes it even has a fried egg on top.
But many people say the spicy special sauce on top is the best part, and that the original sauce recipe is still a secret to this day. The sauce requires some skill to whip up — it starts by boiling beef bones for a few hours with onions, garlic, tomatoes, seafood stock, chili, and beer or brandy. Many restaurants take special pride in their secret sauce recipes.
It’s said that the dish was invented in the 1950s by Daniel da Silva in Porto, Portugal. He wanted to come up with the perfect sandwich. It’s inspired by the French Croque Monsieur, a grilled ham and gruyere sandwich usually covered in béchamel sauce.
The Francesinha was originally meant as a snack for bars and cinemas but now it’s common to find it on menus all across Portugal.