Monday, April 18, 2011

Iowa - Fried Pork Tenderloin

If you ever find yourself at a truck stop in Iowa, you'll most definitely find fried, breaded pork tenderloin. It tastes as good as it is easy to make. Like most popular foods from a certain area, there are controversies on what is the correct way to make it, season it, bread it, so on and so on. The tenderloin lends itself to be experimented on but anyway you make it, you will be in for a delicious ride.

The cut of pork brings up a heated conversation too. Traditionally, pork tenderloin is used but it can also be created using boneless pork chops. But the main thing you want to do, is bang that pork silly and pound it out thin. I butterflied a section of pork tenderloin, placed it between sheets of plastic film and walloped it with a small cast-iron skillet.

I pounded the tenderloins to about a half inch thick but you certainly can pound it thinner. Make sure to achieve even thinness for equal cooking.

Another debatable topic is the breading of the tenderloins. Some use mashed-up crackers, others use cornmeal. I like the crunch of yellow cornmeal so I used that to bread the tenderloin. Soak the pork in milk and coat it with cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper.

Get a cast-iron skillet nice and hot and add oil. You can also deep fry it but I fried it is some shallow oil, three minutes on each side until it gets nice and brown and crispy.

Toppings for the breaded tenderloin is also up for much experimentation but I went with what seems to be the traditional route, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, topped with pickles.

Get a nice, soft bun and stack it, starting on the bottom: tenderloin - tomato - lettuce - pickles - mayo.

Since the breading adds a layer to the pork, I see I could have pounded the tenderloin thinner. You will see in Iowa that the pork can be two to three times the size of the bun! So feel free to make it any size you want.

In Iowa, they don't call this a sandwich, they simply call it Tenderloin because everyone knows what you are talking about. But damn, this sandwich is real tasty and very satisfying. Crispy breading on the outside, succulent pork on the inside, oh baby! The tomato and lettuce adds that garden freshness and the tang from the mayo and the vinager bit from the pickles pulls the flavor all together. You'll be banging tenderloins all day because people will not want to stop eating them, I'm serious.

The fried pork tenderloin is so easy to make and yet the taste is so big. I've been thinking about sandwiches since I saw the latest edition of Savuer Magazine, the sandwich issue. Check it out if you haven't. It has a ton of mouth-watering photos on sandwiches from everywhere. The Iowa fried, breaded pork tenderloin can easily match up with the sandwiches you see in that magazine.

I'm going to have another one! Thanks Iowa.


  1. My aunt and uncle live in Iowa and told us about these tenderloin sandwiches. I assumed she meant they use pork loin since it's less expensive and was surprised it actually is made with tenderloin. Thanks for the recipe, I will have to give these a try!