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Hamburger, Bifana, Prego or Bairrada-style suckling pig sandwich?

They are all meat in bread and, although at first glance they may seem very similar, the first bite dispels all doubts. But after all, why are these sandwiches so desired by the Portuguese?

Three are typically Portuguese and one came from the United States but, it seems, to stay. The ingredient that is the same in all of them is bread, one of Portugal's favorite side dishes for many generations. What they have inside makes all the difference.

The burger normally consists of beef, a slice of cheese and some salad. There are, however, many variations adapted from the original recipe, brought to Portugal by American restaurant chains.

Bifana, a typically Portuguese pork steak in bread, sautéed with garlic and/or spices and seasoned with mustard or hot sauce. Being prepared for any party and in homes all over the country, it is in Vendas Novas that it is best known, due to the quality of the meat and the slow time needed to cook the sauce.

Prego, also typical of Portuguese cuisine, is a beef steak, also in bread, thin and tender and, like Bifana, must also be seasoned with mustard or spicy sauce. It can be found in taverns from North to South, with recipes more or less adapted and elaborated to the taste and ingredients of each area.

Sandes de Leitão, made only with meat and suckling pig sauce, preferably in the Bairrada style, is already an old tradition that is said to have started around 1940, on national road 1, and as a way of allowing those who I spent there working and often had no time to make a meal, to grab a nutritious and tasty sandwich that I could eat without wasting time. The flavor and crunchy texture of the suckling pig combined with the bread seasoned with the sauce made this sandwich famous, which allowed it to reach and grow in homes in Lisbon, Porto and across the country.

Are you in the mood? Are there any you haven't tried yet? They always go well whether for lunch, snack or dinner, right? And the most incredible thing is that, even when it seems simple, Portuguese cuisine always manages to be full of flavor.

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