Portuguese croque monsieur: Francesinha sandwich

This is one of Porto city's most famous culinary "attractions". I say attraction because Francesinha is as famous as any tourist landmark and often you see a long line of people waiting to get into the bars that serve this Portuguese gem and here I bring you my version of the Francesinha and it is, of course, veganized but just as delicious as the original one. Enjoy!
• Sandwich bread, crustless, toasted (2 slices per person)
• Vegan cheese
• Vegan bologna
• Zucchini
• Mushrooms or champignons
• Tofu
• Seitan
• SAUCE:
• Olive oil
• 3 cups of roughly chopped tomatoes
• 1 cup of roughly chopped carrots
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 tablespoon of veggie bouillon
• 1 teaspoon of garlic powder (or 3 cloves of garlic)
• Black peppercorns to taste
• 2 cayenne peppers
• Piri piri to taste (or tabasco)
• Salt to taste
• 1 tablespoon of mustard
• 1 cup of a good quality tomato sauce
• 2 cups of water
• 1 cup of beer
• 1/3 cup of white wine
• 1/5 cup of port wine (or the same amount of red wine plus 1 teaspoon of sugar)
• 1 shot of cognac or whiskey
• 1 knob of butter

Instructions

  • 1.
    Simmer the carrots and tomatoes in water until tender. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and bay leaf in olive oil until golden brown. Reserve.
  • 2.
    When the tomatoes and carrots are ready, drain them, put them back in the pot along with the onions and the rest of the ingredients up until the 2 cups of water. Simmer in medium-low heat for about 20 minutes.
  • 3.
    After 20 minutes, remove the bay leaf, puree the sauce, put the bay leaf back, add the white wine, the beer, the port wine, and the cognac. Simmer for 10-20 minutes more in low heat.
  • 4.
    1 minute before turning off the heat, add the vegan butter, stir until it is dissolved.
  • 5.
    Season and brown the tofu, zucchini, mushrooms and seitan.
  • 6.
    In a deep plate, put one slice of the bread, the browned vegetables, tofu and seitan, and the vegan bologna, cover with the second slice of bread, cover the sides and the top of the sandwich with cheese, put in the oven for 1 MINUTE, just so the cheese softens IT SHOULD NOT MELT!
  • 7.
    Remove the Francesinha from the oven, cover with the very hot sauce and serve with a side of French fries and a nice cold beer!
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