Famous Foods of Iowa! No Kidding

Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (4)CC I know that the title of this post sounds like a parody, but in researching the answer to the question “Does America have regional foods of note?” I came across the Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich when I was writing my latest book ONE-POT WONDERS. I wanted to find a pork dish from America’s heartland that I could include, but wanted something famous locally and not something generic that could be attributed to more than one state. Here it was, a wonderful sandwich which not only met the one-pot criteria but was unique and, once made, for the first time, utterly delicious.

An Iowa pork tenderloin sandwich is traditionally prepared from a thinly sliced piece of pork tenderloin that is pounded very thin so it is larger than the hamburger bun in which it will be enclosed. When served that way it’s called a “hang over” because it hangs over the bun. The tenderloin is marinated in buttermilk and eggs then dredged in breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs before being fried in oil. The fried breaded tenderloin is served on a hamburger bun with condiments—typically, mustard, iceberg lettuce, white onions, pickles, and mayonnaise—placed either on top or traditionally under the tenderloin. You will need to buy one long piece of pork tenderloin and slice from it four 5-ounce pieces. This recipe is based on the criteria used by the Iowa Pork Producers Association in awarding their Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest.

Four 5-ounce pieces pork tenderloin

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 large egg, beaten

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 cups vegetable oil for frying

2 to 3 cups Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs

Four 1/4-inch thick slices iceberg lettuce

4 hamburger buns

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Four 1/4-inch thick slices tomato

Four 1/4-inch thick slices white onion

2 large pickles, sliced thinly lengthwise

4 tablespoons mustard

Coleslaw for garnish

1. Lay the piece of pork tenderloin in front of you on a work surface. Butterfly each piece of tenderloin with a sharp knife by placing your guide hand on top of the piece and slicing in the middle with the knife making sure you do not cut all the way through. Open the sliced meat, place the meat between two sheets of plastic wrap, and pound gently with a mallet until about 10 x 5 inches.

2. In a glass or ceramic casserole, stir together the buttermilk, egg, flour, and salt and pepper. Lay the pounded cutlets in the marinade and marinate for 6 hours.

3. Preheat the frying oil in a large cast iron skillet to 360 degrees F using a deep-fry/candy thermometer to measure the temperature.

4. Remove the pork, let the marinade drip off then dredge in the breadcrumbs on both sides. Deep fry the breaded pork cutlets in the oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Keep the cooked tenderloin warm in a low oven or near the stove while you prepare the sandwiches if you haven’t done so already.

5. Lay a slice of lettuce on the bottom portion of a hamburger bun, cover with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise then lay a tomato, a slice of onion, 2 pickle slices and finally the mustard. Place the cutlet on top and cover with the top of the hamburger bun and serve with coleslaw on the side if desired.

Makes 4 servings


  1. Miranda Parkington says

    This is very helpful because my daughter is doing a report on local foods of states and she needs this help. This website gives very precise information on how to cook it and all. Thanks!

  2. Thanks

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