Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich- The "National Sandwich of the Midwest"

 These sandwiches can sometimes be found in other parts of the Midwest, especially in Illinois , which is sandwiched between these two pork powerhouses,Iowa and Indiana,and also in Missouri. But there is no place that displays the level of devotion to this sandwich greater than Indiana and Iowa. It has been estimated that breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches are served in at least fifty percent of Indiana restaurants. This sandwich is also listed on many menus in Iowa. In Indiana and Iowa, customers will ask for a tenderloin sandwich assuming it is breaded and that it is pork (an assumption that can lead to disappointment when traveling out of pork country). People in both states take pride in their prized sandwich and are politely dismissive of other state’s claims of pork prowess. Where is the true home of the Breaded Pork tenderloin Sandwich? It is really too close to call – this sandwich belongs to both Hawkeyes and Hoosiers.

Many experts place the birthplace of the pork tenderloin sandwich in Huntington, Indiana and credit Nicholas Freinstein as the founding father of this heartland creation. He opened a restaurant, Nick’s Kitchen in 1908 after years of peddling his sandwiches on the street. Legend has it that his brother Jake, having lost function of his hands to frostbite after an unfortunate wintertime carriage accident, used the stumps of his forearms to tenderize the pork. Today, pork tenderloin purveyors have found alternate means to tenderize the meat but it is still as good.

This monster is said to be the biggest made at St Olfs in Indiana

The basic breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is generally starts a large cut of pork loin. The meat is tenderized until it is the desired thickness, usually 1/4 inch thick but sometimes up to a 1/2 inch. The breading is customarily a simple mix of egg, flour, cracker crumbs or brad crumbs,salt, and pepper. Some places will add cornmeal or another special ingredient but the standard is to keep it simple. The sandwich is typically fried or deep-fried. The tenderloin is always significantly bigger than the bun which is typically a hamburger bun or sometimes a Kaiser roll. The condiments of choice are basic – usually pickles, often onions, tomatoes and occasionally lettuce. In Indiana – expect mustard and/or mayonnaise while in Iowa it is most often mustard and/or ketchup. What a difference a few hundred miles can make. The sandwich is always a meal and taking some to go will have no negative effect on ones reputations with the locals.
Where I ate one of my first ones, Marceline, Mo

" I have been eating these since I was a little girl, and if you travel north, most all the restaurants offer these. But the best are the homemade ones! I make them and flash freeze them and then freeze them in individual freezer bags and take out what I need.

Serves 4 ,

Brookfield Missouri Country Club 1950's
Great Tenderloins made here!

  • 1 pound pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 cup bread crumbs or Panko
  • Peanut oil, enough to deep-fat fry
  • 4 large hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • 1/4 white onion, thinly sliced
  • Dill pickle slices
  • Condiments: mustard, mayo


  1. Remove any fat or silver-skin from the pork tenderloin. Sliced it crosswise into four pieces. Place one piece cut side up between two pieces of plastic wrap. ( I use a zip lock bag )Pound carefully with a meat mallet until 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with other three pieces.
  2. On a plate, combine the flour, onion salt, garlic salt, and black pepper. In a bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. On a second plate, add the bread crumbs. You can jump to step 4 and freeze individually and after frozen wrap to use later.   I think the breading adheres better this way!
  3. Pour enough oil in a large dutch oven to come a few inches up. Turn heat up to medium-high and bring the temperature to 365°F.
  4. Dredge a piece of flatten pork in the flour until well coated. Shake off the excess flour and then dip in the whisked egg. Then immediately transfer to the plate with the breadcrumbs.Press crumbs into the tenderloin insuring all the pork is covered with dry crumbs. Then gently shake off the excess.
  5. Transfer the piece of pork to the oil. Cook for about 2 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer to a plate with paper towels, and keep warm in a low oven while you repeat the dredging and frying with the other pieces.

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