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Does the pork tenderloin sandwich really look like this?

Read an article "The Best Ingredients in America's Best Sandwiches"


And saw this attached photo of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich in Iowa. Curious if they really serve them like this.

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  1. yum! this is a particularly large one, but really is not too far off base, where i come from, which is rural northwestern missouri. i live in la now, but whenever i go visit my grandparents, a pork tenderloin is the first thing i eat- always with pickles, mustard, and onion; sometimes a slice of american cheese.

    1. According to a story I read, there's a cultural thing in Iowa about pounding the stuff so thin it's platter-sized, then breading and frying it crisp. I would be tempted to fold it up so it'd fit inside the bun …

      Indiana is another hotbed of tenderloin sandwiches, though theirs aren't like this. I grew up in that general neck of the woods, but somehow missed out on that part of the culture. Next time I'm back there I'll need to catch up …

      10 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        The Indiana ones I have seen are similar...not quite as large, but still comically oversized with respect to the bun. I believe it was the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry that decided one year to serve pork tenderloin, and attendance increased dramatically.

        1. re: Wahooty

          The pork tenderloin sandwiches that I have had in Indiana usually spread 2" outside of the bun all of the way around.

        2. re: Will Owen

          Looks like a good Indiana tenderloin to me ... as big and as thin as a plate.

          1. re: DebinIndiana

            Here in California pork tenderloins are these long skinny little *roasts* that take about 40 minutes to roast. They contain zero fat and have minimal flavor. One would have to completely pulverize it with a steam roller to get it into a sandwich size. The circumference is usually 3 inches or so. So the tenderloins in Iowa are obviously big and round with a circumference of what 6-8 inches?

            1. re: MamasCooking

              They cut a slice off the tenderloin & then pound it out to that size.

              1. re: cavandre

                I get that :) But there is no way with the miniscule tenderloins sold here that you could pound it out to more than maybe 3.5 inches because the circumference is so small. They must put them through an old fashioned washing machine ringer to get them as huge as the one pictured:)

                1. re: MamasCooking

                  They are butterflied, then pounded. But... they usually are the loin, not tenderloin.

                  1. re: JMF

                    That is what I thought. I am going to try it with both but my experience cooking tenderloin of pork has been dicey since it is such a lean precious little piece of pork:) I do LOVE the idea of pounding it savagely with my meat *hammer* though:):)I love the lure of that sandwich in the pic:) It looks so good.

                  2. re: MamasCooking

                    I've done it many times -- believe it or not, a 1" to 1-1/2" chunk of tenderloin will pound out that big.

            2. re: Will Owen

              another Hoosier-born hound here -- yep, that looks like what I grew up with.

              (and it looks GOOD)

            3. Yes....driving cross country many times,we have enjoyed these huge pork "burgers" as they were called in some small mom. & pop places,esp. In Iowa.They were delish!

              3 Replies
              1. re: grangie angie

                Interesting. I've lived in Iowa my entire life, and have never heard a tenderloin refered to as a pork burger. Not saying it's not true, just find it interesting.

                1. re: Bobfrmia

                  I've never heard of it referred to as a pork burger. I usually just say I'm having the tenderloin or the tenderloin sandwich. Most places that's the same thing.

                  1. re: Susangria

                    We were driving down some pretty lonesome backroads when we came upon these small luncheonettes....for lack of a better word....on the blackboard as a pork burger.

              2. And at a $1.99 a pound for loins....why not....yumm.....

                18 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    According to the pdf that grampart links,

                    "Pork loin is what you get when you order one of those hang over the bun platter size midwest tenderloins in most restaurants. However, the pork tenderloin is the leanest and tenderest part of the pork.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I don't like pork tenderloin. I love pork loin roast and cut it into pork steaks for breaded chops...schnitzel quite often. It will work. Especially at $1.99 lb.

                      1. re: MamasCooking

                        That's funny - pork here and pork there must differ. Here, the loin is less flavorful and the tenderloin is more flavorful. Of course, very little pork these days has the flavor it did a few decades ago.

                        1. re: sandylc

                          I am glad someone else is expressing the overall lack of good flavor in things like pork etc. compared to the 60's 70's and 80's.I have a (growing list) of recipes I want to try so I decided to do the pork sandwiches with both loin and tenderloin ( at separate times) and it looks like crushed crackers is the authentic classic coating.

                          1. re: MamasCooking

                            I'm wondering how Ritz crackers would compare to Saltines for the breading.

                            1. re: JMF

                              Sweeter. I used them for a classic stuffed prawns recipe last September and they had a sweetish nutty flavor. I used to use crushed corn flakes and eggs to coat bone in pork steaks. Delicious stuff. Have not done that in decades.

                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                I tried using powdered Ritz crackers, with added herbs and spice last night, and fried in clarified butter. Very nice.

                                1. re: JMF

                                  oh man, that's taking a tenderloin sandwich places I'm not sure it's supposed to go.

                                  Herbs and spices? Clarified butter? I use all those, but not on a hometown tenderloin sandwich.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Naw, you need only to include the three food groups: meat, grease, and salt.


                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      Well, the Ritz crackers crumbs were very good, but needed some spicing up. Fresh pepper, garlic powder, salt, and sage which goes great with pork. I didn't have any light olive oil or veggie oil, only an intense extra small batch super premium extra virgin olive oil (which isn't meant for frying) and homemade ghee/clarified butter, so I used the butter. Easy, simple, very tasty.

                                      1. re: JMF

                                        seriously, you're thinking too hard.

                                        Salt and pepper on the tenderloin. Dip in egg white and milk, then dredge in crushed cracker crumbs.

                                        Fry in vegetable oil.

                                        Throw it on a Wonderbread bun with a leaf of iceberg lettuce, a slab or two of fresh beefsteak tomato, and a swipe of Hellmann's, with a couple of slices of Vlasic bread and butter pickles.

                                        that's all.

                                        I'm sure what you made is tasty, but bears nearly no resemblance to the tenderloin sandwiches found in every sandwich joint in the Midwest.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          Durn east-coasters trying to fancy up good, clean flyover food! ;)

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            Thinking too hard? I used what I had and what worked. What is thinking too hard about that?

                                            1. re: JMF

                                              If I had to guess, you went astray with the words "needed some spicing up." Delicious, sure, but that's just not how it's done in the I-states. :)

                                              Shit..I've just unwittingly dipped my toe in another "authenticity" debate, haven't I? <sidles back into her corner before someone notices>

                                              1. re: Wahooty

                                                If you look back at my first response, you know I understand the authenticity of this. Childhood experiences are very powerful.

                                              2. re: JMF

                                                Teasing aside, I fully support both "original/authentic" ideas and variations. I think it's fine to get creative, so long as we don't forget the roots of a dish.

                                            2. re: JMF

                                              Your version sounds delicious. How fine did you get the crumbs? The sage also sound delicious. I enjoy doing *riffs* on classic recipes, not a redo but slight alterations and modifications.

                          2. The ones I've seen here in Indiana are pretty much this size, but rounder and not so irregularly shaped.

                            1. Oh yes... however, the pork tenderloin you have in the picture looks a little small...

                              1. On a styrofoam plate? No Way!

                                1. That "sandwich" looks awesome and that was a great list...I'm glad to see Jersey represented but what's with "New Jerseyans know it by one name and one name only—Taylor Ham."? It's really only northeast Jersey that calls it that..

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                    Call it Taylor Ham, call it pork roll, it all tastes good to me.

                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      It's more than NE Jersey that knows and calls it Taylor ham.

                                    2. Just a very good Pork Schnitzel, no? They're much better in a good kaiser bun.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: DockPotato

                                        it's down that road, but it's not schnitzel -- the breading is crushed crackers, and it goes on a Wonder-bread-white bun, with tomato, mayo, iceberg lettuce, and bread-and-butter pickles.

                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                          AND found one last night at a place near the house that's owned by people from Bloomington.

                                          Really good flavor, but way too thick -- about 1/4"!

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            Okay, I'll give this a shot - on a kaiser.

                                            Are we talking plain saltine crackers? Are the pickles on or beside?

                                            Oops. Edit acknowledges answers below.

                                            1. re: DockPotato

                                              Saltines: regular. Although I'm sure any variety would do in a pinch. Pickles: Depends on the joint serving them. I always order mine with pickles, mustard and onions. I also prefer a battered pork tenderloin sandwich over a saltine-breaded one. Just my preference, though I will eat both.

                                              I've had them all over Iowa. My favorite sandwich is served at a place called PM Park in Clear Lake, Iowa. It's open from April/May to October/November and they pound theirs until it's as big as your head then batter them.

                                              1. re: Susangria

                                                I think the breading/batter is a regional thing. In northern Indiana, you'd be hard-put to find it battered -- MAYBE in bread crumbs, but almost universally cracker crumbs. (Saturday's sandwich was cracker crumbs)

                                                I was raised to eat them with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a few slices of bread-and-butter pickle.

                                        2. A sandwich like that from an A&W drive-in is one of my best memories from a year we spent in Iowa when I was in 6th grade.

                                          1. It is enough to make a California girl like me get on a plane and fly back there and eat a few of them:) I love schnitzel of any type but especially pork and with a soft bun and pickles? WOW!

                                            1. Well I must say it is impressive. Do they ever serve it with an extra bun for the...overage?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                I have never seen it served with an extra bun. I'm sure they would if you asked. I just trim off the excess beyond an inch from the bun's edge. I would dip it in mustard and eat it if I had any room left at all after eating the sandwich!

                                              2. What is it actually breaded with does anyone know? Egg wash and flour or breadcrumbs?

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: MamasCooking

                                                  Many recipes use cracker crumbs. These are SO good.
                                                  We deliberately stalled a trip so we could get pork tenderloin UFOs for lunch a couple of years ago.

                                                  1. re: nikkihwood

                                                    Pork sirloin roasts are on sale here for $1.99 per pound. I am going to buy some and slice it pound it and make some sandwiches like that. I love chicken fried pork chops and pork schnitzel so this is going to be good:)

                                                2. That's how they come in Indiana- love salty fried pork. They are typically huge enough to spit into at least 2 sandwiches.

                                                  1. If you would like to view a large selection of these, here is the most complete blog on Iowa tenderloins you will ever find.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Bobfrmia

                                                      Nobody here in N California serves anything close to that to my knowledge. The blog is great!

                                                    2. Oh that look's so good. I've only had a couple of these; they're not common around here and the first I had was on the menu as a pork burger. There's a long running thread on Roadfood on these with many pictures and reviews from all over the country.

                                                      There are Cajun and soul food places here that serve a chicken fried pork chop on white bread as a sandwich, often bone-in, but it ain't the same.

                                                      As a native born Texan, I have to say the Pork Tenderloin sandwich beats a chicken fried steak sandwich all to pieces.

                                                      1. Ohhhh, do I remember them from childhood. My cousins lived just outside Des Moines Iowa and I spent summers there until around age 12. Late 60's/early 70's. I was several years older than my cousins, too much to play together. So, almost every day I was dropped off at a farm where a horse was rented for me for the summer. I would ride the countryside all day. Some days with a bag lunch, others with lunch money and a canteen. On the lunch money days I would stop at one of several diners in surrounding towns for lunch and many times I got a Tenderloin sandwich. Mmmm... I make them myself several times a year, but they just don't taste the same.

                                                        I also remember at the Iowa State Fair there was a booth that had battered, deep fried tenderloins that were insanely good.

                                                        One place also had a Tenderloin plate. Just a tenderloin, with a huge tenderloin, with two huge ice cream scoops of buttery mashed potatoes on top, topped with more pats of butter, and smothered with gravy.

                                                        Give me one of those pounded and tenderized Mid-Western pork tenderloins, mash n' gravy, Peach pie and a strawberry milkshake, and I'm all set. It's too bad pork isn't as meaty/porky tasting today and is "the other white meat."

                                                        1. Everything you ever wanted to know about making a BPT sandwich at home by one of "our own".

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: grampart

                                                            That is awesome Grampart! Now I see I had better get a tenderloin and try it instead of the pork loin (which I love). Great pics with the article. Saved onto my desktop. Excited.

                                                          2. Mom made these frequently when I was growing up - always breaded in saltine cracker crumbs. If I was lucky, she would let me use the rolling pin to bash the bag of crackers to make the crumbs.

                                                            I grew up in west-central IL, a little less than an hour from Iowa. We didn't have to do the whole pounding out of the meat thing - they are available at the meat counter already cut and pounded out thin.

                                                            1. In my experience, the proportion of meat to bun is obviously off, but other than that it looks right.

                                                              1. Looks like a central IL pork tenderloin sandwich

                                                                1. Yep. Looks about like mine. A little less meat hanging over the sides, but not much. Will have to put these on the rotation again. Soon. Yum!