For you non Iowans, this is a small town classic. Almost every small town in Iowa has a restaurant who will claim to have the best, most award winning or the biggest tenderloin sandwich. You don’t need to say pork, it is understood. The pork producers have a yearly contest to pick the best restaurant version. There are web sites dedicated to this much celebrated delicacy.
Maybe it is a 4 without the memories but it’s a 5 to me.
This recipe started with what I wanted and then I read lots to get to the final recipe. Here is the summery of what I found.
1) The meat: Many actually use tenderized pork loin or a boneless pork chop. I believe this is ok but if you want the meat to be melt in your mouth, I suggest a pork tenderloin.
2) The wash: most use egg or egg with milk. Several used milk or buttermilk alone. I went with egg with some milk added.
3) The coating: There was flour without even any salt or pepper. There was onion powder, onion salt, garlic powder, garlic salt, oregano, paprika and a few other spices I don’t remember. There was cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, panko bread crumbs and corn meal.
4) Cooking method: Most did pan frying like I did. Several truly deep fried and two “oven fried”.
From all the above you should conclude…. do what you want. Everyone will swear by their method and I’m sure they are all fine. Mine is simple tasty and melt in your mouth good with not much work.
Start with about a quarter inch of oil in a large pan. I used a 12 cast iron chicken fryer but any heavy large fry pan would work. Preheat oven and a tray to 200 to use to keep batches warm while you do additional trays. Put the oil over medium heat and heat to 365. You need to check temp and a good instant read thermometer is great here.
Trim a pork tenderloin of any fat and silverskin. Now cut into 4 equal size piece. You are going for approximately equal weight. Next “butterfly” the pieces. Do this by cutting 3/4 of the way though and fold it back to double the size.
Next cover with plastic wrap and pound to 1/4 inch thick. Some go to 1/8 inch but that becomes huge.
Set up two pans. In the first, combine one egg and 1/2 cup milk. Whip well. In the second pan, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 t salt, and 1/2 tsp each of pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Start with coating the meat with the egg wash. Shake to remove excess.
Coat well in the flour mixture and shake off excess.
Place in the 365 degree oil.
Fry for 3-4 minutes per side. About a minute into each side, shake the pan a little to move the meat a little, this will keep it from sticking and help it be crispy. See the color change at the edge in the picture. The meat is saying “turn me now”
Cook until golden brown and internal temp of 160 plus. You will need to adjust heat to keep the oil in the 365 range. You will not be able to keep it perfect but be aware you need to turn up the heat. Between batches, you should turn the heat down to keep it from over heating.
Transfere the completed tenderloin to the heated oven and pan to keep warm for serving.
I like mine on a bun with mayo.
December 12 2013