A few friends from the Portuguese city of Porto told me that they typically never made francesinha at home. It was more to be reserved for restaurants, stacked with various meats and smothered in a beer-based gravy. Versions vary between establishments, but here, I’ve consolidated my learnings into a pared-down recipe and taken advantage of the residual fats and bits from searing all of the proteins. The resulting fond is a bit darker and very rich, and the booziness of the beer and port used to deglaze stands up to the fatty pork and beef. If you prefer a slightly leaner sandwich, switch the bacon with sliced ham or prosciutto. Enjoy with a side of French fries and piri piri sauce, if you can find it.
- Cook the bacon slices on medium heat for 3–4 minutes on each side until crisp. Place them on a paper towel–lined plate.
- Cut the sausages lengthwise, leaving a hinge for the two halves to stay connected.
- Tenderize the steaks by pounding them lightly with a mallet. Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Fry the sausages in the bacon fat on medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes, until browned on each side. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate.
- Fry the steaks on each side for 2 minutes for medium doneness. Let rest on a plate.
- Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan, and save the rest for another use.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to the pan. Sweat for 4–5 minutes until the onions have softened.
- Add the bay leaf, jalapeño, and tomato paste. Sauté for 1–2 minutes until the paste has darkened to a different shade.
- Carefully add the beer, port, beef stock, and whiskey, if using. Make sure to scrape the bits at the bottom.
- Bring it up to high heat. Once boiling, lower to a simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Let the sauce cool completely. Fish out the bay leaf and discard.
- Blend the sauce with a food processor or immersion blender. Transfer to a small pot.
- Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water to make a slurry.
- While stirring, mix the cornstarch slurry into the sauce. Keep the sauce on low heat as it thickens.
- Preheat your broiler on high heat.
- Assemble the sandwich by stacking a slice of bread with split sausage, steak, bacon, a slice of cheese, bread, and another slice of cheese on top.
- Repeat with the second sandwich.
- Broil the sandwiches for 2–3 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling.
- Transfer the sandwiches to a lipped plate and smother with a ladleful of sauce.
- Top with an egg, if using.
Jenn de la Vega is TASTE's Cook In Residence and the writer behind the blog Randwiches.