The Bifana: Portugal’s Tasty Meat Snack

Bifanas de Vendas Novas

 

What comes to mind when you are asked about typical Portuguese dishes? Bacalhau (cod), and the many different ways it can be prepared? Chicken with “piri piri” spicy sauce? Soups, grilled fish or cozido à portuguesa (a stew of different meats and vegetables)? Or a desert such as the tasty custard tarts called “pastéis de Belém”?

Well, today we present to you a simple sandwich that any local you care to ask would say is typically Portuguese – the “bifana”. The bifana is so popular in Portugal that McDonalds here have even launched the McBifana in recent times. So what is it? Basically a slice of pork steak in a roll of bread, the pork having been lightly sautéed, sometimes with garlic and/or other spices, so that the meat is warm and juicy. The bread roll is usually distinctly crusty, puffy and floury, and the whole thing is often eaten as a snack for lunch, sometimes with a bowl of soup.

The Alentejo region of Portugal is well-known for the quality and variety of its gastronomy, and it is said that the bifana originated here in the town of Vendas Novas. Most locals will tell you that the best bifanas are from this area, and supposedly they are a cut above those made elsewhere.

The Bifana de Vendas Novas then, is made from select pork fillet and is marinated and then cooked in a secret sauce. The bread roll is lightly toasted which, together with the special sauce and juicy meat, makes this a truly delicious and appetizing snack.

If you want to try the famous bifana from Alentejo, it’s no longer necessary to visit Vendas Novas, you can sample this tasty sandwich right here in Lisbon. Almost any café or bar will have bifanas on the menu, but if you want to try the one from Vendas Novas, go to the Bifanas de Vendas Novas kiosk in the Colombo mall in Benfica, one of Portugal’s largest shopping centres. Here you can try the original (and supposedly the best) bifana, together with other traditional dishes and soups.

Bifanas de Vendas Novas: http://www.bifanasdevendasnovas.com

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