On a number of the cooking sites and forums I belong to, the topic often comes up about great local and regional sandwiches. Sandwiches that always get mentioned are Muffulettas (New Orleans), Philly Cheesesteaks, Kentucky Hot Browns, Chicago style Hot Dogs, Italian Beefs, Brats, along with some lesser known sandwiches. But there always seems to be one missing from this list, and that is the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. Found sporadically around the Midwest, this sandwich reaches its apex in Iowa and in central Indiana. I remember, as a kid, coming back to Indiana (both my parents were born there, as was I, before we moved out East) and being treated to this regional delight. What fascinated me, at the time, was how big the sandwich was. And by big, I mean huge. While served on a standard sized hamburger bun, the meat in a Pork Tenderloin Sandwich is pounded into a thin disk about the size of an average dinner plate!
The Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, of Indiana, is a simple affair. Pork tenderloin, or sometimes pork loin, is pounded thin, dipped in seasoned flour, egg wash and then breadcrumbs before being deep fried. It is then placed on a bun and served, most often, with lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard. My grandfather, from what I remember, like any self respecting Old Timer, would forgo the tomato and once home with the sandwiches, would slice up some of his own homegrown, sun ripened tomatoes to place on top.
There’s a chain of burger joints, up here in Wisconsin, that serve a pork tenderloin sandwich, but it just seems to lose something when the pork “patty” is massed produced and frozen. It just can’t compare with the real deal, freshly cut, pounded and still dripping with hot oil as it is placed on the bun.
I encourage everyone to, not only make this simple recipe, but to tout the joys of the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. I want to see it take its rightful place, listed among the great sandwiches of our nation.
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
makes 4 sandwiches
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound) or 1 pound of pork loin
3/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
Remove all the fat and silverskin from the tenderloin.
Cut into 4 portions, each weighing 4-5 ounces. Place 1 portion, cut side down, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound until about 1/4″ thick and about 8″ in diameter or more.
Season the flour with salt, pepper and the garlic powder. Make an egg wash by beating the eggs with the water until well mixed. Fill a large skillet (at least 10-12″ in diameter) with about 1 1/2 – 2″ of oil. Preheat to 350°F. Bread the tenderloins by first dredging them in the flour, then dipping in the egg wash and then coating in breadcrumbs. Allow to rest for about 4-5 minutes to allow the breading a chance to stick.
One at a time, fry the tenderloins until golden brown on both sides and cooked all the way through, about 3 minutes on each side. Drain and season with salt while still hot.
Place in a 150°F oven to keep warm as you fry up the remainder. When done place on burger buns and serve with the condiments of your choice.