Francesinha Sandwich (Portuguese Recipe)

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For the gravy:

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz (150 grams) flank steak (fraldinha) cut into medium-sized cubes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • piri-piri hot sauce to taste (Tabasco sauce can be substituted)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 oz (60 ml) Port wine (optional)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Pilsner-style beer
  • salt to taste

For the sandwich:

  • 1 slice good-quality smoked ham
  • 1 small sausage of your choice (chorizo, linguiça, andouille, wurst, etc.) , sliced lengthwise and fried until nicely browned
  • 1 slice Italian mortadella
  • 3 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 small boneless steak, grilled or fried
  • 2 thick slices rustic peasant bread at least 1 in (3 cm) thick
  • 1 fried egg (sunny-side-up is traditional)
  • gravy to taste


  1. Prepare the gravy: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, the garlic, the cubes of meat and the bay leaf and fry them, stirring frequently, until the onion and the meat have nicely browned.
  3. Add the Port wine, if using, and the tomato paste and mix them in thoroughly. Pour in the beer and hot sauce, and correct for salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for at least one hour or until reduced by about half.
  5. Dissolve the cornstarch in about 4 Tbsp cold water, then stir it in. Let cook for about 5 minutes or until the cornstarch is transparent and has thickened the gravy.
  6. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve, pressing down on the solid ingredients. Reserve, keeping warm.
  7. Prepare the sandwich: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Place one slice of the bread in an ovenproof dish or casserole.
  8. Top the bread with one slice of the mozzarella, then the ham, mortadella and grilled steak.
  9. Add one more slice of cheese and the second slice of bread. Top with the final slice of cheese.
  10. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the meats are hot and the cheese has melted and browned.
  11. Meanwhile, fry the egg. Remove the sandwich from the oven and place it on a deep plate, using a spatula and taking care that the sandwich remains whole.
  12. Pour the warm gravy over all, making sure there is plenty at the bottom of the plate.
  13. Top with the fried egg and serve immediately, accompanied with french fries if desired.

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