If you live out East or out West or down South, you may not get this, but in the Midwest, we have the delicacy of delicacies. We have the beloved Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. If you’ve never had one, you need to get in the car…or airplane…or boat…or gondola…and go find one. They are the epitome of deep-fried deliciousness. Take a lean cut of pork tenderloin, place it between some layers of plastic, then using a tenderizing hammer, pound that sucker until it's as flat as an oversized pancake. When that’s finished, season it, coat it in appropriate breading, and deep fry it to golden brown perfection. That is when the debate starts…what do you put on it?
I’ve had them with beer batter. I’ve had them with cornmeal batter. But nothing beats a simple egg and flour batter, as long as it’s seasoned well.
Personally, I like mine dressed with a slice of cheese (or several slices depending on the diameter of the tenderloin), pickles, onion, and mustard. Sometimes I’ll add a little mayo. There’s an ongoing debate in BPT circles as to whether ketchup is an appropriate condiment. The answer seems to vary depending on whether you’re from Iowa or Indiana. I accept some lettuce, but I usually pass on the tomato.
Another point of contention is whether the dreaded fritter is really an acceptable replacement for the genuine pork tenderloin. I grew eating pork fritters. Pete’s Pride from Muncie, Indiana fed me during my teen years in the 1970’s. Loved them. However, they are just ground up pork, probably from varying cuts of the critter, and then shaped into a disc before being breaded. Still, I found them pretty yummy with mustard and a slice of American cheese.
Battling for the main topic of the debate is thickness versus diameter. The sheer shock value of the two-foot diameter sandwich is compelling. I liked the one I had in Edinburgh, Indiana at the now famous Edinburgh Diner, but I enjoyed the smaller circle yet thicker meat at Whiskey Business in Indianapolis just as much. If you get the mid-sized sandwich at the Oasis Diner in Plainfield, Indiana, you should also indulge in their private-recipe Red Cream Soda. Awesomeness!
Bottom line: If you travel between Indiana and Nebraska, Iowa/Illinois to Missouri/Kansas, you have to at least try a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. Your life may never be complete if you skip out on this. If you catch the fever, you can follow the various pictures, stories, and reviews from the multitude of Midwest eateries serving them on the Facebook page devoted to their pursuit: Pursuing Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
Now, I’m hungry.
Michael DeCamp is a husband, father, uncle, son, and brother. He built a career in industrial sales while maintaining an spiritual life in pursuit of a love for God. He has published one fantasy thriller and one devotional book. (There are more on the way.) He also produces a podcast (The Cutters Notch Podcast) that provides new episode approximately twice per month.