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Crispy Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

I guess this is a specialty in Iowa/Illinois. Anyways, I was going to try my hand at it tonight and need help. I could have sworn within the last month or so I read something on this board about these sandwiches, which linked to a blog belonging to someone who had posted pics and tips of all the variations he has made. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? TIA for any help on this crazy question! Also would appreciate any tips or recipes from those who have had the real deal.

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  1. I think it's called Schnitzel. I don't have a recipe, but I've ordered the schnitzel sandwich at Magnolia's and it sounds like what you are describing.

    1. I know what you're talking about from having lived in Indiana. They are crazy about these things. THe bar I worked in had packages of them frozen, but my understanding is that it's a slice of pork tenderloin, pounded really thin and huge, breaded with cracker crumbs and deep fried. Pu on a bun half the size of the tenderloin, top with mayo, lettuce, tomato. I remember that Bobby Flay on one of his shows actually made these...the show where he goes from state to state finding out what the specialties of that state are...personally I hate these things, but good luck and I'd love to know how it turns out, for nostalgia's sake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: prunefeet

        NFR - just had to chime in on your id....I laughed out loud when I saw it! "Prunefeet" is by far and away the best id I've ever seen online. It really tickled my funny bone!!

      2. I love pork tenderloins! I grew up in Iowa and it is the one thing I want to eat when I go back for a visit. I have never found them anywhere I have lived since leaving the state (Minneapolis, St. Louis, KC and now NYC).

        1. Thanks for the help! I will definitely post a pic with my result. And I just found that website too - fans of this Midwestern specialty should definitely enjoy this! I'll link below. I did notice he says for best results, to marinate overnight in buttermilk. Obviously too late for that - but I just pounded them (though unfortunately maybe too thin) and threw them in the refrigerator so they can marinate for at least 4-5 hours..


          1. prunefeet got the basics down, but there are a few things I'd like to add:

            1. Purists eat them with only onion, pickles & mustard.
            2. Serve it on a hamburger bun.
            3. Proper tenderloins are about 2-3 times the size of the bun.

            Frankly, I think you could get really creative with the tenderloin, maybe adding some parmesan into your breading, serving it on an onion roll with a zesty aioli, etc. You get the idea. Remember, since the meat is so thin, it won't take long to cook it up -- if you fry it for too long, you might as well shingle the house with it, it will be so dry.

            Good luck! I just had a tenderloin at Joensy's in Center Point, IA last weekend. Certainly not gourmet fare, but solid food and the joint was hoppin!

            12 Replies
            1. re: Big Al

              Exactly! I didn't know about the onion, pickle mustard thing, never saw that in Anderson, IN, and we served a lot of these things. Yes, it should hang WAY over the bun, to the point where you are not sure how to tackle it. Lol.

              1. re: Big Al

                Joensy's! Haven't been since graduate school 15 years ago, and I'm so glad it's still there.

                To duplicate the perfection of the pork tenderloin outside Iowa you'd have to spring for some really good pork. The pork quality routinely available there is far higher than what's routinely available elsewhere -- at least in Massachusetts. Is it a matter of freshness? Don't know.

                1. re: Tatania

                  Grew up in Cedar Rapids...Have not lived there for 25 years.....Have made it back several times, last time I was in Solon Joensy's was closed.....Anybody know if it has re-opened.......They had the best and biggest tenderloins in the world.........Live in Colorado now...Pretty tough to find a tenderloin here, let alone one that even comes close to Joensy's.....

                2. re: Big Al

                  "Purists eat them with only onion, pickles & mustard."

                  NO!!! Lettuce, tomato, and mayo. This is the purist's choice of toppings! I am from Indiana (a state that should have been mentioned in the OP); where are you from, sir? I feel as though I've caught a spy in Russia because he liked his vodka at the wrong temperature! HA.

                  1. re: sandylc

                    When you add lettuce,tomato, and mayo(?), it requires a new name.
                    A pork tenderloin has condiments on it, not various fruits and vegetables.

                    1. re: Bobfrmia

                      That's just the Indiana tradition. I just report it, I don't DO it! Ha.

                      1. re: sandylc

                        Another Hoosier here -- Sandy's right - in Indiana, it's lettuce,tomato, and mayo -- and I would not suggest telling anybody in Indiana that it's NOT a pork tenderloin.

                        Different regions, different traditions. The fact that it's not what YOU have experienced doesn't make it wrong -- just different.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          While WRONG never appeared in my post, it is a regional thing I guess. In all the years of posting about tenderloins here, I never heard that was the standard in Indiana. Normally we just argue about where it was started.

                    2. re: sandylc

                      You crazy Hoosiers -- who ever heard of lettuce, tomato & mayo on a tenderloin!?

                      ; )

                      1. re: Big Al

                        Hey, who you callin' a Hoosier? (I moved away thirty-something years ago)

                        1. re: sandylc

                          so did I -- but I was born there, so I'm still a Hoosier by birth, no matter where I live now.

                  2. While moving across the country I took a detour in Iowa so that I could go to Joensy's in Solon for a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. It was fantstic. I wish they had them places other than Iowa and Indiana. The rest of the country is really missing out. Here in Cambridge a sandwich shop opened up recently that has Beef on Weck and Muffaletas, so I'm hoping to convince them to carry breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches as well.

                    Here's another website dedicated to BPTSs:

                    The picture of the Joensy's sandwich on that site is glorious!
                    Good luck with making your own. Let us know how it turns out.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: maillard

                      Holy Cow! That thing is huge. Now I'm starving - I'm going to have make dinner early ;)

                      1. re: maillard

                        LOL -- that link had this old chowhound logo:

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Love it. Reminds me of the old site.

                      2. Reporting back!

                        YUM - I can see why these are popular - a crispy, porky, guilty pleasure. They came out really tender also, not dry as I was afraid of.

                        I cut two 2-inch pieces of pork tenderloin and pounded them thin (not too thin as I originally thought). Threw them in a ziploc bag with buttermilk, a beaten egg, some minced garlic, a little paprika, and salt and pepper. Let them marinate for a few hours. Drained, then rolled them in panko crumbs. Served on the requisite hamburger rolls, grilled with butter:

                        My husband requested his with mustard, tomato, and onion:


                        It's full bigger-than-the-bun glory:


                        For me, I took Big Al's advice with just onions, pickles and mustard. It was perfect, though I couldn't finish it!


                        Thanks so much everyone for the helpful info.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee

                          Yours look way more appetizing than the ones I have seen in Indiana. I think I only ate one. They were pounded so thin that there was much more breading than meat, and it just seemed to me a waste of pork. Yours looks lovely! Good job!

                          1. re: Rubee

                            "Not to thin"
                            The key to a great tenderloin.
                            Some believe that if you can pound it out to the size of a manhole cover, put it on a bun the size of a white castle, it has to be good. Not sure where that comes from.
                            Good quality pork, light breading, not greasy, thick enough you have to bite through it. It's all about the pork to me.
                            And yes, the best are made at home.

                            1. re: Bobfrmia


                              I don't know if the best are made at home. I base my knowledge on what I learned from the restaurants, mainly Nick's Kitchen in Huntington, IN (a century of knowledge) and the Brickyard Crossing in Speedway, IN. I would be hard pressed to come up with a match to the fresh made oversize buns made from scratch in the restaurant the Red Onion in Sheridan, IN uses for their tenderloins. And as far as the size of a manhole cover, the St. Olaf Tap in St. Olaf, Iowa managed to do just that with a 16 oz. tenderloin that still was thick and juicey. I have no idea how they manage that because I cannot get tenderloins of that size in a regular grocery store to match it. The St. Olaf Tap tenderloin is the latest addition on my website to see.

                              1. re: Davydd

                                Let me revise that.
                                The best I've had yet, I made at home.
                                But on reflection, the loins at Michaels are awfully good.
                                Making them at home just gives you the freedom to make it to your own liking. Thick or thin, heavy breaded, light, or even battered.
                                Still, having someone cook for you can raise the enjoyment.
                                The St.Olaf pics are enticing to say the least.
                                It would be tough to pound one out that size, even if you are butterflying it. Are they using tenderloin? I could maybe see it with a pork loin.

                                1. re: Bobfrmia

                                  It was a true tenderloin and it was still thick and juicy. As you can judge from the website I have had quite a few and a wide variety. The fun is seeking out new places in the pursuit. I would have never ventured into St. Olaf otherwise. I have my sigthts set on another Texas location, one in Mesa, AZ, several more Indiana places and the 2004 and 2005 Iowa winners in Hamlin and Dunlap. By that time I will probably have sampled the best.

                                  1. re: Davydd

                                    I would not dispute your expertise. I look forward to reading about your future finds.

                                    1. re: Davydd

                                      While you are traveling and trying different places be sure and stop at the Townhouse in Wellsburg, IA. They won the contest for the best tenderloin in Iowa in 2006 and people travel from all over to try them. It is in a town of less than 800 and in less then 2 months they have it advertised they have served over 3100! I live 15 miles away and have yet to try but have heard raves over and over and plan to go soon.

                                      1. re: luv2cookinIowa

                                        The Townhouse in Wellsburg is more like 215 miles from me but it is on my short list of places to visit.

                                      2. re: Davydd

                                        If you ever get close to Creston,ia, you should stop in to the Elms Club and try theirs.Nice and tender, really good flavor,thick.When we go, we order one with an extra bun because 1 is too much for one person. My husband is a truck driver and drives 48 states and he claims these are the best he has had. i have to agree but i havent been to as many places as he has. Enjoy. I believe they use a beer batter on theirs.

                              2. My supermarket (!) carries pork cutlets -- super-thin sirloin cut pork chops (I think). And cheap! I make 'schnitzel' by breading (egg, bread crumbs) and frying them fairly regularly. We had a German au pair last year, it's all her fault.

                                Know nothing of these sandwiches, but instead of buying a tenderloin, see if you can get you some of these 'cutlets'.

                                1. Yes! Thanks for such an informative site. Since we're in Boston and I couldn't hit one of your recommended spots, your site was my inspiration to try them at home. Your recipe tips were excellent too.

                                  1. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/midweste... This site has a great recipe for pork tenderloin sandwich.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: sharon85027

                                      Personally would not care for corn meal. I think it would be improved with either cracker or bread crumbs. Just my preference.

                                      1. re: Bobfrmia

                                        Yeah, I think cracker crumbs is most authentic.

                                    2. you people are enablers. I have no basis for comparison, but I made a version of this and it was delicious. Pork loin chops pounded thin, but still with a meaty bite. soaked in buttermilk with some smoky salt for 20-30 mins, then dredged in seasoned flour. pan fried in about 1/4 - 1/2 inch of oil. it was generous but not a deep fry. plain white bun. I made a faux aioli with mayo, mustard, and minced garlic. a little onion and pickle on the bun. yum. we decided that we needed to remember the basic combo of fried meat and bun--how could anything be wrong with that!

                                      1. Funny this thread has reappeared. My parents (who live on the east coast, where I'm from) came to visit me for a week here in Indiana. One day we took a road trip and went out to eat at the Chocolate Moose in Farmland, IN, a small throwback type of place. I insisted that my dad order the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, as it was such a culinary tradition in Indiana. Never mind that I'd only had one in my life (and not from there). Apparently he's still raving about that sandwich, even more than the fine things I cooked for them while they were here. Not sure whether they (the restaurant) used cracker crumbs or bread crumbs.

                                        1. There's a recipe for "Iowa Skinnies" in the Feb/March 2007 Cook's Country. It calls for a one pound pork tenderloin cut into 4 medallions which are then pounded to a quarter inch thick. Patted dry, floured, dipped in a mayo/egg mixture, then pressed into a crumb mixture made by processing saltines with torn white bread. Air-dried for 5 min on a rack, or chilled if longer before frying two at a time in a half cup of oil. Served on buns with mayo, lettuce, tomato.

                                          1. Wouldn't be exactly traditional but you could cut slices, bread and fry them and put them on split dinner rolls (the ones that almost look like hamburger buns). use mayo, mustard lettuce and tomato.

                                            They would be like little happy hour sliders. You could do it with chicken the same way. Ooh, that would be good.

                                            Maybe bbq sauce instead of mustard and mayo.

                                            You could use a batter and deep fry for chicken fried pork sandwichs. Texans would line up for that.

                                            1. Man. You guys are killing me. This Hoosier girl grew up on breaded tenderloin sandwiches on soft white hamburger buns. Mayonnaise (Hellmann's, duh) and pickles in Indiana, please...with a big slice of Amish-made sugar cream pie.

                                              1. I finally made some of these sandwiches. It was like eating a breaded, boneless pork chop on a bun. It was pretty good. I had the nagging feeling I was wasting a good tenderloin. Although in my store a tenderloin is about the same cost as boneless center cut pork chops so why not?

                                                1. Every Monday night during football season, we fix the signature dish of the home team. Tonight it will be BPTs! Can't wait to try the recommendations here.

                                                  1. Reading some of the correspondence prompted this reply.

                                                    I grew up in Cedar Rapids and attended university in Anderson, Indiana. The best Saturday night any teen could imagine was going to the Marion A&W in a '57 Chevy convertible with a sweetheart, and ordering a pork tenderloin sandwich and onion rings.

                                                    One respondent mentioned that purists ate them with only mustard, pickle and onions. I don't know about purists, but I think that's the way they were served. A few years ago (40+ years after leaving Iowa) I returned to CR salivating over the thought of returning to that A&W. Alas, it was long gone. During the recent 500 year flood the other A&W on Ellis Boulevard was destroyed. Everything changes but me.

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: porker4u

                                                      Interesting, I see many say they use tenderloins
                                                      We always use a thick cut pork loin, not tenderloin,
                                                      Butterflied then pounded to plate -sized proportions

                                                      1. re: malabargold

                                                        Yes, it is always called a tenderloin, but it seems that everyone actually uses the loin. ???

                                                      2. re: porker4u

                                                        Hey, porker4u - I grew up in Marion! Nice to meet you.

                                                        1. re: porker4u

                                                          Are you kidding me, the A&W in Marion was a GREAT place, I lived in Cedar Rapids off of Mt Vernon Rd and as a kid we would ride our bicycles all the way over there taking East Post Rd just to get one of A&W's MONSTER tenderloin's and a ice cold rootbeer all for about a buck and a quarter.....Marions A&W is long since gone, but the memories are still there.....

                                                          1. re: wagonwheel47

                                                            gosh, imagine anything for a buck and a quarter except at 7-11 these days.

                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                              you must be referring to the 2 for a buck roller dogs at 7-11

                                                              1. re: wagonwheel47

                                                                hahahaha "roller dogs" and…. taquitos!

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  Can't forget about the nachos with that yellow stuff that comes out of a can they call cheese!!

                                                            2. re: wagonwheel47

                                                              Marion, Indiana?? We might have multiple Marions going here!

                                                            3. re: porker4u

                                                              Hey there porker4u....I grew up in Cedar Rapids also, and I actually get back there a couple times a year...I live in Colorado now.....The Marion A&W is long gone, but not to fear, the Starlite on 1st Avenue behind the Dairy Queen has a darn good tenderloin.....I have to agree, Pickles, onions, & mustard is the only way to go.....

                                                              1. re: wagonwheel47

                                                                Don't sleep on the loin from Westside Maid-Rite close to downtown in Cedar Rapids

                                                                1. re: trza

                                                                  Not sure what you mean by "do not sleep on the loin".......I was never a fan of the Westside Maid-Rite.....

                                                            4. You can make them with loin, but when tenderloin is on sale, you can pound them thin and save $.
                                                              i use panko crumbs, and a deep fryer.
                                                              You can also buy them frozen and sent to you from the Amana Colonies, they have a sales book, and probably a website. Theirs are really good but sort of expensive (most of them are anyway)
                                                              and they are not huge. They are pretty close to the original.
                                                              I used to buy them in Iowa with pickles, ketchup and mustard, and they also made a barbequed version, smothered in BBQ sauce. EXCELLENT!!!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: dgreg

                                                                Although some purists in Iowa would cringe, when I was stuck in West Texas for 13 years, I used Andy's Seasoning Cajun Fish Breading .... and for my friends in Indiana, yuck on the Mayo/Miracle Whip!