Sabrina A.

The Dossier of the Francesinha

Gastronomy in Figueira I

Welcome to the first post of Gastronomy in Figueira. Our purpose in this Blog is to awaken the taste for Portuguese gastronomy, through the history and recipe of each dish. Today we will talk about the famous Francesinha (Frenchie), a snack loved by the Portuguese. Its history proves the mastery of the inventor of this delicacy for the Lusitanian people.

The secret history behind the Francesinha

Created in the city of Porto by Daniel David Silva in the restaurant A Regaleira in 1953, the dish consists in the refinement of the Croque Monsieur, an emblematic sandwich found on the menu of any respectable Parisian cafe, through the addition of an orange colored sauce accompanied by french fries .

To better understand the history of this beloved dish, let’s explore the recipe of its predecessor, the Croque Monsieur.

Croque Monsieur

According to ¹Karen Goldman  (trained in French cuisine at Ecole Gregoire Ferrandi, a great food history scholar and co-founder of the Gastronomes agency) the first signs of the sandwich come from nomadic Aboriginal people in Australia who consumed their game of the day by pressing the meat between two slices of wheat dough on top of the wood fire, using a large clip made of wood and iron.

The Croque Monsieur was created around 1910-1919, in a Parisian café located on Boulevard des Capucines, and its name nobody knows for sure where it came from.

The story that scholar Karen Goldman finds most peculiar and interesting comes from ¹René Girard, in her book ‘Histoire des mots de la cuisine française’. According to him, in the beginning of the 20th century, the owner of the “Le Bel Age” bistrot, Michel Lunarca, who had a strange cannibal reputation, had proposed on his menu a new sandwich made in bread instead of the traditional baguette. A customer then asked what was the meat in the sandwich. Michel jokingly replied: “de la viande de monsieur!” that is to say, in a free translation: it is the flesh of a man / human flesh.

Boulevard de Capucines

Croque for the French is the well-known bread soaked in eggs and fried in a pan. Croque Monsieur is traditionally a sandwich made with ham and cheese (Emmental or Comté) between two slices of bread, toasted in the frying pan or in the oven. It was only later that the idea of spreading the bechamel sauce over it came up.

Croque Monsieur variations for the consequent refinement of Francesinha

Croque Monsieur with Béchamel

Photo and Recipe : eucomosim.com

Tradicional Croque Monsieur
Croque Monsieur au Chorizo

Francesinha: more than a snack, a gastronomic love story

The creator of this delicacy, after living for many years abroad, decided to add some of his passion for croque monsieur to the Lusitanian palate. This taste requires strong spices, but at the same time, in a moderate amounts to allow the enjoyment all the ingredients.

Like the Croque Monsieur recipe, Francesinha is modified by each cook in each region of the country. The soul of this snack is the sauce.

The set formed by its structure (bread, meat, cheese) needs to be carefully adapted and chosen to combine with the type and amount of alcohol present in the sauce.

Below is the “original” Francesinha recipe provided by the website 24kitchen.pt. Its variations are associated with different meats. In the next post we will present our own version of this dish by Sun with Style. Its creator is passionate about cooking and incorporates her international knowledge into each dish.

Francesinha in Porto's style

Ingredients:

Sauce:
  • 75 gr. Bacon
  • 75 gr. Lard
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 table spoon olive oil
  • 150 ml beef broth
  • 2 table spoon tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 400 ml beer
  • 100 ml Port wine
  • 50 ml  whiskey
  • 1 table spoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 50 ml white wine
  • 1 table spoon corn starch
  • Salt
  • Piri-piri chili
Sandwich:
  • 3 slices of bread
  • 2 thin sirloin steaks
  • 2 fresh sausages
  • 1 chorizo
  • 2 slices of cheese
  • 2 slices of bologna
  • 2 slices of smoked turkey breasts
  • 1 egg

Preparation:

Sauce:

Start by making the sauce by cutting the bacon and lard into cubes, then fry lightly without adding any more fat. Then, chop the onion and garlic and add to the bacon and lard and sauté until caramelized.

Add beer, port wine, whiskey and white wine to the stew and let it reduce.

When the sauce is already reduced, with the alcohol evaporated, add the mustard and the tomato draft. Dilute the corn starch in a little of the broth. Then add the broth and the diluted corn starch and boil for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat of the sauce, add the Worcestershire sauce, mash and then pass through a sieve and add salt if necessary. Add a teaspoon of butter.

Sandwich:

Heat a stove grill and add a drizzle of olive oil. Start grilling the sausages and then add the steaks that should grill lightly, so that they are not overcooked. Remove the sausage and cut in half lengthwise, and cut the chorizo  the same way.

Fry an egg.

On an oven tray, start assembling the francesinha. Put a drizzle of olive oil in the bottom, then put a slice of bread, followed by bologna, smoked turkey breast and then another slice of bread on which to place the sausage, chorizo and then the steaks. Then place the last slice of bread on top of the steaks and, on top of it, the fried egg with a pinch of salt. Finally, place the cheese slices and bake in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Remove the sandwiches from the oven and drizzle with the sauce.