A Francesinha is a specific kind of Portuguese sandwich that comes in many varieties, most of them involving meat, cheese, bread and a unique sauce that often features different varieties of beer. This type of sandwich is common in many areas of Portugal, as well as other places around the world where Portuguese cuisine is served. The name Francesinha in Portuguese can be translated into English as “little French girl.” According to some sources, the Francesinha was originally based on a Portuguese effort to re-create the popular French item called the croquet-monsieur.
The Francesinha can include many different types of meat. Some of the most common meats include ham, sausage, steak, or roasted beef. Many versions of the sandwich include more than one of these meats, for example, a cured ham along with beef strips or sausage. The most common kind of sausage included in the Francesinha is called linguica. Linguica is a specific kind of cured pork sausage that is popular in Portugal; it can be compared to the Spanish chorizo, and uses elements like garlic and local versions of paprika.
Aside from the meat elements of the Francesinha, some types of cheese are often included. The cheese is usually placed on top of the sandwich, and the beer sauce, often flavored with tomato sauce or paste, is spread liberally over the sandwich. Other types of Francesinha sandwiches may have the sauce on the side, or not included at all.
Specific versions of the Francesinha featuring other foods will appear at local eateries where this authentic cuisine is served. For example, the carna asada version features braised beef that is cooked into soft, thin strands. The F. a Barcarole, an abbreviated name for a Portuguese style, is a sandwich served with seafood. The F. Especial is a sandwich served with egg. These sandwiches can also be made with tuna, chicken or other proteins.
Another classic type of this sandwich is the F. Poveira, a sandwich that is shaped like a hot dog. This particular variety of sandwich usually involves mustard and a mix of the linguica sausage with additional meats. The Poveira is well known in the localities that favor it over the more common square-type sandwiches.