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Winning with the francesinha sandwich

The francesinha was first introduced in 1954 in Porto, Portugal in a café called A Regaleira, when Daniel da Silva, after years of working in Paris as a waiter, returned to Porto to create an afternoon sandwich inspired by the croque monsieur, layered with several cured and cooked meats, cheese, ladled over with a spicy, rich tomato and beer sauce. He named it francesinha as a tribute to French women, whom he felt were both petit and hot. The francesinha spread to local taverns by both popular demand and migrating A Ragaleira staff. Eventually this led to vegetarian versions. Though Iʼm not really sure how that works.

Ham, mortadella, bacon, linguica sausage and leftover roast pork and beef can all be layered up in a francesinha. Although traditionally a base of tomato and beer, I add meat and seafood stock, vegetables and more meat scraps. I also use whiskey, however Licor Beirao and white or red port also works.

It’s rare to find a francesinha outside of Porto. It is 60 years old and for a local dish, that’s not enough time to transcend to national gastronomic icon status. 25 years ago there wasnʼt even a motorway connecting Porto to the rest of the country. When in Porto, if deviating from A Regaleira, two highly regarded alternatives are Capa Negra and Bufete Fase. — Vitor Claro

Bread, cheese, meats, a beer and tomato sauce, Portuguese Chef Vitor Claro breaks down the seismic bar hero with director Carlos Carneiro

Vitor Claro opened his first restaurant in Lisbon 10 years ago. In 2012 he opened Claro! by the ocean in Cascais and a tapas spot at the popular Mercado da Ribeira in downtown Lisbon.

EGGS is our film series about food and eating.