New Jersey’s breakfast sandwich

If you thought the Garden State would have vegetables in their state sandwich, you’d be wrong.


I was hanging out in the meat section of the grocery store, thinking about sandwiches (again) and I found a small plastic and cloth wrapped hunk of meat. I checked the label, and it was a pound of John Taylor’s Pork Roll. I had heard about Taylor ham/pork roll, but I had never seen it in real life, so I decided to buy it and see what the fuss is all about.

Some Taylor ham/pork roll history

A gentleman named, John Taylor, has been credited with the invention of pork roll back in 1856 in Trenton, New Jersey. Taylor originally called it “Taylor Prepared Ham,” but was forced to change the name since this product didn’t meet the legal definition of ham at that time.

In 1906 Taylor Prepared Ham was renamed Taylor’s Pork Roll. Around this time or a few years later, there were several competing companies that were marketing similar products using the words “pork roll,” “rolled pork” and “roll of pork” in their product names. Taylor tried to sue at least one of these companies and the court ruled that “pork roll” and “roll of pork” couldn’t be held as trademarks.

Fast forward to the current time and there are still multiple companies making a product classified as pork roll, Taylor Provisions (John Taylor’s original company) and Case’s are two of the most well-known. The phrase “Taylor ham” is still being used by Northern New Jerseyites and those living in Southern New Jersey (and Philadelphia) typically will say “pork roll.” People living in Central New Jersey are known to say one or the other.

This is a much bigger rivalry than I originally knew about when starting to research this blog post. There are several well documented investigations into this naming convention rivalry and one of those was posted last year on the New Jersey Digest: “Taylor Ham or Pork Roll? A New Jersey Civil War.”

If you want to see the Taylor ham/pork roll divide on a map, the tweet below is citing a map created from a poll that NJ.com held in 2016. More than 40,000 votes were cast in the poll that created this map, and many folks joined in the conversation, including such notable names as Chris Christie and Bill Clinton. The live google results map is no longer available, but the map in this tweet will give you a good representation of the demarcation of the Taylor ham/pork roll divide.

What is Taylor ham/pork roll?

One pound of John Taylor’s Pork Roll

John Taylor’s pork roll is not just a big hunk of meat like an actual ham. It’s finely ground pork shoulder with added spices merged in a way similar to other processed pork like bologna or mortadella. It’s fully cooked, so you could just grab a big hunk and start taking bites out of it like an animal. But we’re not animals, we’re sandwich enthusiasts. I did take a bite of one of my first slices, but no one needs to know about that.

The flavor of this brand of pork roll actually reminds me a little bit of country ham that I grew up eating in the Southeastern part of the United States. John Taylor’s pork roll isn’t quite as salty as country ham, but it does taste saltier to me than most regular ham. I would say it reminded me of a combination of country ham and bologna and some of the bologna flavors are coming from the similar way that the two meats are traditionally seared for sandwiching.

The way that pork roll seems to be cooked most often is on a flat griddle or flat top. Almost every video or photo of pork roll being prepared for sandwiching has three or four slits cut into the edge of the meat. This is not done for looks. The slits are cut so that the pork roll slice doesn’t curl up or cup on the flat, hot surface.

  • Four slits in the Taylor ham/pork roll = fireman’s badge style
  • One slit in the Taylor ham/pork roll = Pac-Man style

One thing to note is that the one-pound version of John Taylor’s pork roll (like the pound I bought) has a smaller diameter than the larger versions. I would assume that New Jersey restaurants are buying the six-pound version and they’re slicing theirs with a deli slicer. I was able to use a sharp knife and sliced mine into about 1/8th of an inch slices.

What is a Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese?

A Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese sandwich contains: seared Taylor ham/pork roll, a fried or scrambled egg and American cheese. The typical condiment options at that point are: “salt, pepper, ketchup.” The sandwich is served between a sliced Kaiser or “hard” roll.

Some griddling action shots

This is just to keep your interest and excitement levels high. We get into the process of making these a bit further down the page.

With a sharp knife, cut slits into your Taylor ham/pork roll a few times around the outside to allow it to sear evenly. Four slits in the slice = Fireman’s badge style.
A fried egg before the flip. I move the seared pork roll with melting cheese and the toasted Kaiser roll to the back, cooler spot on the griddle while the egg cooks.

The egg

From all the videos I’ve watched it appears if you order a Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese you will likely get a fried (over easy) egg with a broken yolk. Wikipedia claims that occasionally it’s a scrambled egg, but I didn’t see any confirmations of that in the few videos I’ve watched or articles I’ve read.

From my non-New-Jersey perspective, the egg could be cooked to your favorite cooking style. Over easy with a breaking of the yolk before flipping is just the most common way.

The Kaiser roll or hard roll

A fresh baked Kaiser stamped Kaiser roll.

For this sandwich we need Kaiser rolls. In the process of researching this sandwich I learned that people from New Jersey (as well as some Mid-Atlantic US states like New York and Connecticut) call a Kaiser roll a “hard roll.” I get why they might call a Kaiser roll a hard roll, but it still bothers me because I don’t pride myself on making hard bread.

The use of bread flour in this recipe is crucial. Often you can substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour or vice versa, but in this case, you need the chewiness that bread flour contributes to a recipe. This texture is what leads to the roll being “harder” while still not being a heavy or dense bread.

Recipe Card
2 hours and 47 minutes
Kaiser rolls

Some areas call a Kaiser roll a "hard roll," but this roll is anything but hard. The outside is a tiny bit crusty, and the interior is firm, but still squishy where it counts. This is a great roll for sandwiches or burgers.

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A Kaiser roll doesn’t really need to have the design on top, but it’s what people expect when they hear the name. There are two techniques that I know of for making that design:

  1. Using a Kaiser roll stamp
  2. Making a fancy dough knot

I’ve done both techniques and they both taste the same, so it’s all up to personal visual preference. The Kaiser stamp takes a bit of technique to learn. You must make sure to keep flouring your stamp in between each dough stamping. The flour keeps the splits in the dough from sealing back up during the final rise. You also have to let the dough rise upside down after stamping. This can lead to some problems deflating the dough when you flip it back over.

Homemade Kaiser roll made with a Kaiser stamp
A Kaiser roll that I knotted instead of stamped. Some look better than others…

Sandwich assembly

Let’s build some New Jersey hangover breakfast sandwiches!

All the ingredients for a tasty breakfast sandwich. Look at that fancy ketchup (it’s a local version we like – my house was currently out of Heinz…).

Slideshow of the cooking process

Brought to you in 4K slideshow Dolby max stereo. Or maybe just photos.

The recipe

At this point, I’ve basically described in photos and words how to make this sandwich. It’s quick and easy, but if you are the type of person that prefers a step-by-step recipe, here you go:

Taylor ham/pork roll egg and cheese sandwich view printable page for this recipe

If you can get your hands on Taylor ham or pork roll from New Jersey, you need to know how to make this sandwich. In theory, it's a breakfast sandwich but I'm pretty sure it would be great any time of the day.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Kaiser roll (hard roll)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 or 4 slices of Taylor ham or pork roll
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1 or 2 slices of American cheese
  • salt, black pepper, ketchup

Directions:

Slice and toast your Kaiser roll if you desire. To do this, get a medium pan or large griddle over medium heat and butter each cut side of your Kaiser roll. Cook, butter side down, for a few minutes until the roll has toasted and picked up a light brown color.

Remove the Kaiser roll to a plate and keep the pan over medium heat. If you have a large griddle, you can set one burner to be a lower heat and move your rolls to that side to keep them warm. 

Cut small slits into the edges of your slices of Taylor ham or pork roll. This helps your pork sear better. 

Place each piece of pork roll into your medium pan still over medium heat. Sear for 3 to 4 minutes per side. This meat is already fully cooked, we're just trying to brown things and get the pork warm. 

Once each slice of pork is browned to your liking, stack the meat and remove to a plate or cooler part of the griddle. If you're using multiple slices of cheese, you can add the first slice in between the pork layers to help the melting start. 

When all of your pork slices are stacked and moved off the hot part of the griddle/pan, add one tablespoon of butter to the pan. Once the butter starts bubbling (should be almost immediate), crack an egg right on top of the butter. Don't stir the egg or move it around. 

Salt and pepper the egg. 

After about 2 minutes, using a spatula or turner, flip the egg and add a slice of cheese on top of the cooked side of the egg. 

Cook the egg with cheese on top for another 2 minutes until done. If you like your egg with no runny yolk at all, you can cook it another minute. 

Assemble the sandwich: add the stack of Taylor ham/pork roll to the bottom of your Kaiser roll. Layer the egg and cheese on top of the slices of meat. If you opt for ketchup, squirt some on the Kaiser roll top and close the sandwich. 

Stand back and be proud of your creation. Take a big bite and enjoy. 

Notes:

If you can't find Taylor ham or pork roll, you can use a few slices of bologna or slices of Spam. If you do this, it WILL NOT be a Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese (do not yell at me, New Jerseyites!), but it will still be a tasty sandwich. 

Some finished Taylor ham/pork roll egg and cheeses.

Gaze on these tasty beauties and let me know how you think I did down in the comments.

Pork roll/Taylor ham, fried egg and American cheese with salt/pepper/ketchup on a hard roll (please don’t call my freshly baked Kaiser roll “hard”).
Sometimes you need to add poppy seeds to your Kaiser roll just to make sure you won’t pass any of your future drug tests.
The combination of American cheese and ketchup must have some people squirming, but it really, really works in this sandwich.
All the melty cheese and all the egg combine with the juices from the seared pork roll to make some sort of fantastic sauce. The firmness of a Kaiser roll really is the perfect vessel for this sandwich. I made this one without ketchup.

A non-traditional sandwich

I made this one just for fun and I changed a couple of things up.

This is cheddar instead of American cheese, a folded egg instead of a fried egg and roasted garlic mayonnaise instead of ketchup. I honestly loved this version but if I did it again, I’d add hot sauce. Adding some hot sauce to the original sandwich would be nice too.

Is it Taylor ham or pork roll!?

I’m not going to get into this. You folks in New Jersey can work it out without me. What I can say is that this is a tasty sandwich. It might be a bit salty for some folks, but I doubt there are many people who are eating these sandwiches every day (except for the week I spent doing just that – and I seem ok?).

The main takeaway I’ll come away with from Taylor ham/pork roll week is that I think it’s fantastic to find sandwiches like this that have such a strong connection to an area. I think the North/South New Jersey naming rivalry has contributed to some of the passionate feelings that locals have to this meat product, and I think that has driven the excitement and interest for the sandwich even more.

What do you call it? Let me know in the comments or tweet it at me!


Two porks are better than one

Let’s eat the best thing ever invented in Florida.


I’m just going to come out and say it; the Cuban sandwich is among the top sandwich options in the world. It’s in my top 10. If you’ve never had one, a Cuban or Cubano is typically a sandwich on a semi crusty, long roll with a soft center that is stuffed with ham, roast pork, pickles, Swiss cheese, and yellow mustard. The sandwich is then pressed in a panini press (also called a plancha) with butter until the crusty outside of the bread is fried and crunchy and the interior fillings are warm and melty.

If you’ve yet to eat a Cuban sandwich, hopefully you’re interested in finding one or making your own now.

The Cuban sandwich likely originated in the Tampa, Florida area in the late 1800s or early 1900s according to the nerds who update wikipedia. The sandwich spread from its beginnings in that area and by the 1960s it was prominent on Miami restaurant menus. Now you can find Cuban sandwiches on menus at sandwich joints all over the place.

There are currently three different versions of the Cuban sandwich that you can find in different areas of Florida, but for some reason, most of the rest of the restaurants serving Cubans around the country are based off the Miami version.

  • Miami Cuban: Cuban bread, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard
  • Tampa Cuban: Cuban bread, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard + salami (Genoa)
  • Key West Cuban: Cuban bread, roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard + lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise

For my focus on the Cuban sandwich, we’re going with the Miami version. Keep reading to see how I make mine.

The bread

Three Cuban-style bread rolls ready for sandwiching.

If you’re making Cuban-style bread, you’re gonna need to buy some lard.

Cuban-style rolls are very similar to a white bread sub roll but the fat typically comes from lard instead of butter or oil. The proportion of lard/fat to flour is such that the lard will only contribute a small amount of flavor. This bread does not have the amount of lard flavor that you will find in homemade tortillas.

When you’re making biscuits, lard will often contribute to more flakiness and layering because lard has a higher melting point than butter and that means lard has a longer period of time where it steams and vents to air.

But when baking bread, lard can contribute to a drier and softer bake because of its high (100%) fat content vs butter (about 80% fat).

Cuban rolls are spritzed with water or baked in a high hydration oven to make the outside of the rolls a bit crusty while leaving the center soft. I spray my unbaked rolls liberally with water and immediately place the dough in the oven. This process brings the hydration up to help crust up the outside. The result is a great soft-on-the-inside sub roll, but with a Cuban we’re going to ruin that bread texture and make it something else entirely with a hot sandwich press.

3 hours
Cuban bread rolls (Pan Cubano)

Making Cuban sandwiches? First you're going to need to find some lard. Then you'll need to make these soft, semi-crusty rolls that eventually you'll smash between two hot surfaces. Oh, and you'll need some pork, ham (also pork), mustard, Swiss cheese and pickles!

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Here’s a pretty Cuban sandwich loaf you can look at. I looked at if for a few minutes myself.

Freezing tip: if you can’t eat three 15-inch Cuban rolls in a couple of days, wrap one (or two) rolls tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and put it in the freezer. Then when you want to eat Cubans again, pull the frozen bread out and leave it on the counter for 3 hours or so and it will thaw and be almost as good as when it was fresh. I always freeze bread to make sure I don’t waste it.

The mojo marinated roast pork

This mojo marinade is fantastic. I can write more about it, and I will, but if you take anything from this sandwich post, please try this marinade.

My pork cooking technique is highly influenced by Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Cuban-style Roast Pork Shoulder recipe. Go read that run down and recipe if you’re interested. His marinade is slightly different than mine, and I used a different cut and weight of meat with different timing needed. But I was inspired by his technique of wrapping my pork in aluminum and then later unwrapping it with a higher heat in the oven.

The best idea that I got from that recipe was to reserve some of the mojo mixture and use it to coat the meat when serving. The zesty citrus and garlicy tang is fantastic on this pork, and they shine through the Cuban sandwich even when put up against the mustard and pickles. Do not forget to hold some mojo marinade back for slathering on the pork in your Cuban.

The mojo marinade prior to being added to the pork.
Basting the pork roast with its own juices and mojo marinade.

Here’s my mojo pork inspired recipe.

5 hours and 15 minutes
Mojo marinated roast pork

Roasted pork that is garlicy and tangy from the citrus based marinade becomes a great addition to a Cuban sandwich or served on a plate with rice.

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The pickles

Savory dill pickles that will encourage you to continue making your own pickles.

One of the major flavors in a Cuban sandwich comes from the dill pickles. The mustard and the pickles are neck and neck for the most intense flavor, and they meld really well together.

I have shared this pickle recipe before, and it’s a good one.

25 minutes
Spicy MSG pickles

Spicy and dilly and savory pickles are great as a snack or in a sandwich. A great addition to any refrigerator. I based this recipe off of this tweet from Joshua Weissman and added extra spice.

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The other stuff

Ham, Swiss cheese and yellow mustard are the last three ingredients we need to make a Cuban inspired sandwich. All three are easy to find and buy at your local market. Other than the mojo roast pork, you could easily make a Cuban just from things you can purchase at the grocery store.

Sandwich Assemble!

Let us put all the pieces together and make Cuban sandwiches.

Here’s all the stuff I put into my Cuban sandwiches. That 78 Yellow Mustard is a local brand that we prefer, but any yellow mustard should work in a Cuban. French’s is a national brand that should be available near you.

I like to layer my Cuban sandwich ingredients in this order from top to bottom (or you can just memorize the gif below):

  • top of bread
  • yellow mustard
  • Swiss cheese
  • pickles
  • mojo roast pork
  • ham
  • Swiss cheese
  • yellow mustard
  • bottom of bread

The most important things in the layering process in my experience is that you must get the mustard directly on the bread (like almost all other times you’d use mustard in a sandwich) and it’s best to get the cheese beside the bread so that it’s closer to the heat source which will help with melting. Everything else in the layering doesn’t really matter that much, but I do like getting the pickles near the melty cheese just in case they try to slip around when you’re biting the sandwich.

Sometimes the gifs I make mesmerize me and I watch them for minutes at a time thinking about sandwiches past and future. This is me making a Cuban to the point right before it gets seared and pressed.
Pre griddling. This would still be an awesome cold sub sandwich, but we’re not done! The hot griddle on both sides just adds extra crunch, texture and warms everything through.

The sandwich press

We use a Cuisinart “Griddler” that we got years ago and it works great for pressing sandwiches. You can swap out the flat griddle sides and use the grill panels if you like grill marks. You can also keep it open fully for a flat surface/griddle to grill a steak or some other meat if you wanted.

If you don’t have a panini press, you could accomplish the same task with two cast iron skillets or a flat griddle and a cast iron skillet. Put one over a hot burner on your stove and you can put the sandwich on that pan and then lay the other cast iron skillet on top of the sandwich to provide the weight for the “pressing.”

You will want to spread a little butter on the bottom and top of the bread before pressing. This helps with the browning and will contribute flavor to the outside of your sandwich.

Griddling action. Look at that butter dripping down and sizzling underneath! This photo is taken inside our panini press.
Another Cuban sandwich getting melty between the presses.

The finished Cuban sandwiches

Here we go, the final results.

Slicing tip: always cut your Cuban sandwiches diagonally. I don’t know why, but everyone does it so I do it too!

Hello, beautiful porky goodness inside melty and mustardy bread crunch.
This is the second time I really tried to make a solid Cuban. August 17th, 2020. This was roast pork and pulled pork instead of ham. The bread wasn’t as authentic either, but once pressed it’s hard to tell.
Brown and crunchy bread accompanies the warm, soft and melty insides.
Stacked and thick Cuban sandwich.

Lets be real

Unless you hate mustard or pickles (shout out to Shana), you should really be excited about Cuban sandwiches.

If you’re not a bread baker, the hardest part about making Cubans is the roast pork. Many grocery stores have some sort of cooked pulled or chopped pork which could be a substitute if you wanted a Cuban style sandwich at home in a pinch. So, basically this is very approachable if you were looking for something very flavorful and not terribly difficult to make.

Make more Cuban sandwiches. Check back next week when things might get sloppy.


Carolina on my dog

“I always look for a hot dog wherever I go.” – Martha Stewart


Controversial statement incoming.

I’m one of those people who consider hot dogs to be sandwiches.

That sound you just heard was my friend, JP, reading the last sentence and closing down her internet browser in disgust.


Sorry JP! All the rest of you, please keep reading:


One of my favorite regional hot dog styles is the one from North Carolina where I grew up. The Carolina dog is made up of chili, coleslaw, chopped onions and sometimes mustard (it’s better with mustard). This regional hot dog style is basically considered standard “all the way” in parts of North and South Carolina. If you’ve never had one of these, the chili and the slaw might be different from versions you’ve seen or experienced. We’ll discuss those in full with my recipes below.

The origin of the Carolina Dog is pretty much up in the air. Wikipedia claims that a place in Wilmington NC, called Merritt’s Burger House, has been serving this style since 1958, but there’s nothing else online to back that up. Even the linked article doesn’t really say they’ve been serving this style of burger or hot dog since that time. Melvin’s in Elizabethtown NC, claims that they have been making a burger with chili and slaw for 80 years, but I’ve found nothing really saying when or where the Carolina style hot dog started. We’re going to have to hire some food detectives to figure this out. I’m not the guy to do it.

If you’ve never cooked a hot dog before, Nathan’s Famous has a pretty good guide for cooking hot dogs. I cook my hot dogs on a grill outside or inside on a grill pan or skillet. Nathan’s Famous does tell you that it’s ok to microwave a dog, but not ok to boil one. As a kid I remember a lot of microwaving of hot dogs for quick lunches that didn’t require turning on the stove or oven. I just remember putting a hot dog in a bun and wrapping it in a paper towel. Forty five seconds later I was enjoying a hot lunch (with just ketchup probably).

Here are the ingredients I like to prepare for my favorite hot dogs.

Hot dog potato rolls

Consistent readers already know I’ve talked about the King Arthur’s Potato Bun recipe a few times recently. I whipped up the same recipe again this week, but I shaped them into torpedoes or hot dog shapes.

Here’s a video I made of how I shape dough into that shape. The video is for a longer roll than a hot dog roll, but it’s the same technique. The recipe in the video is for rolls that are similar to my sub sandwich rolls.

I like to make my buns fit my hot dogs. I don’t want any extra bites of just bun if I can help it, so I usually weigh my dough into 80 gram (or even 75 gram) portions. Then I shape that portion into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes (while I shape the rest). Then I flip the ball over, exposing the bottom tucked side to the top and leaving the smooth top on the surface of the counter. This means the smooth part will end up on top when you’re done.

Flatten the dough into a rough rectangle about the length of your hot dog. I make my dough rectangle about a quarter inch thick. Then I roll from the side closest to me away from me to make a log.

Then the most important part is getting the seam sealed tightly by pinching your fingers. Once the seam is very tightly pinched, I flip the dough log so that the seam is on the bottom touching the counter and I roll the log back and forth on top of the seam to flatten out the places where I pinched the dough. Then you place the dough log seam side down on your pan and press it down a little to keep if from being a perfectly round cylinder.

You want to get your dough logs about an inch or an inch and a half apart on your sheet pan. They don’t have to touch, but if you are looking for New England style split top rolls, put them a little bit closer together (like an inch). They will rise to about double after shaping and then rise again in the oven.

Some finished hot dog buns.

Hot dog chili

This is not typical chili. There are no beans, but it’s also not chunky with hunks of meat like Texas chili. Hot dog chili is made from ground beef that’s mashed or chopped and not full of beans or onions. In some recipes hot dog chili is sent through a food processor, but you can do the same thing with a potato masher.

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Hot dog chili

No beans in this chili, but it's perfect for topping a hot dog or burger. This type of chili is also superb for chili cheese fries.

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Hot dog slaw

This is sweeter than the slaw I usually make, but it’s similar to what you’ll find in a lot of Eastern North Carolina barbecue joints or hot dog stands. I enjoy it on occasion and it works really well with the chili, but feel free to omit the sugar entirely if you’re averse to a sweet slaw.

Recipe Card
15 minutes
Hot dog slaw

This is a fairly sweet slaw, but that's what is traditional in a Carolina Dog. You could easily just cut the sugar in half or omit it all together if you want a simple slaw that isn't very sweet.

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The Carolina dog

Let’s put all the pieces together.

Carolina dogs are typically bright red hot dogs with hot dog chili, a sweet slaw and chopped onions. They also often will have mustard added as a fourth item. The wikipedia page for “Hot dog variations” claims that people have been making Carolina style hot dogs since at least 1958.

When you study other hot dog variations on that page, you’ll learn that West Virginia is very very similar to a Carolina dog. Georgia also often has a dog with chili and mustard or sometimes only slaw. There are other regional hot dogs with chili like the Pink’s Chili Dog from Los Angeles and then you have a Coney dog from Michigan but Coney chili traditionally is made from ground up beef heart instead of regular ground beef.

I like to build my Carolina dogs with chili on the bottom, then slaw and then plain yellow mustard on top. About half of the time I leave out the raw chopped onions. I don’t think raw chopped onions add that much, but feel free to add them to yours.

Here are some of my finished Carolina dogs.

I ate a few hot dogs this week. Here are a few of them.

Split top potato bun stuffed with hot dog, chili, slaw and mustard.

The Glenn and the messiness problems

The Glenn

A friend named Glenn has commented on my hot dog photo tweets before and always recommends to put the mustard underneath the slaw and chili and that will help the hot dog not be so messy to eat. I tried it and named this version: The Glenn.

I do think he’s right, but the hot dog is way prettier with mustard on top. If you want to avoid messiness, build your dog like Glenn does.

Now let’s talk about the next logical step with these ingredients.

Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger

The Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger was first introduced at a Wendy’s in Rockingham, North Carolina. Wendy’s did not invent this style of cheeseburger, but they did a lot to add recognition outside of the small North/South Carolina burger joints and hot dog stands. Here’s a video of ol’ Dave Thomas being introduced to the Wendy’s Carolina Classic Burger from back in 1995.

Growing up in Eastern North Carolina, I learned early on that “all the way” for a burger meant chili, slaw, chopped onion and mustard. On family trips to White Lake, NC we’d visit a place called Melvins’ in Elizabethtown. Melvin’s is amazing. The line could be fifty people long and it just flies in minutes. Because they’re so busy and they’re cooking burgers constantly they claim that it takes just 10 seconds to get a burger made to order. They open up at 7:30 am and start selling burgers. No breakfast, just burgers. And the line starts that early too, proving that burgers are a breakfast food.

Since I had the slaw and chili and a leftover bun from Breaded Pork Tenderloin week, I decided to recreate the “all the way” burger I grew up with. I even went so far as to make my burger patty square in honor of Dave Thomas.

My own Carolina Classic burger with a square patty. Quarter pound burger with cheese, chili, slaw, chopped onions and mustard on a toasted bun.

Everything’s better with some pimento cheese

Couldn’t let this opportunity of hot dog buns and chili go to waste without using a little pimento cheese. Make some chili and slaw (and even pimento cheese) to have available for hot dog and cheeseburger toppings at your next backyard cookout! Fourth of July is coming up and so is the rest of your life! Put these easy recipes on your list of backyard necessities for burgers and hot dogs of all seasons.

Chili and pimento cheese dog.

Who’s your sandwich?

I could have titled this one: Who IS your sandwich? but then I think we’d all be confused.


The state sandwich of Indiana, the Hoosier state, happens to be the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. VisitIndiana.com actually goes so far as to say that this sandwich is “Indiana’s most famous contribution to American cuisine.” I think the Larry Bird tomato might have an issue with this statement, but we’ll continue.

The Sandwich Tribunal (a website dedicated to eating every sandwich on the wikipedia list of sandwiches) has a few posts about Breaded Pork Tenderloin (sometimes called BPT), including this write-up about Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana where many folks believe is the birthplace of the sandwich. As you can see from The Sandwich Tribunal’s experience at Nick’s, they (like many breaded pork tenderloin locations) pound their tenderloins out really thin and WAY bigger than the bun.

The breaded pork tenderloin sandwich can also be found in other midwest states like Iowa, Missouri and Illinois. The Iowa Pork Producers Association has even created a “Iowa Tenderloin Trail” with a map and twelve BPT serving restaurants across the state.

When you’re talking about condiments the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich seems pretty simple. The wikipedia page for Pork tenderloin sandwich claims that “the sandwich can be served with condiments such as mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, lettuce, onions and pickles.” Quite a few of the BPT photos on the internet show mustard and since VisitIndiana.com’s page specifically mentions that the original sandwich had pickles on it, I kept my versions simple with just mustard and pickles. I also opted to make mine closer to the size of my buns. Since you’re making these at home, you have all the freedom to make these changes.

The sandwich ingredients
The completed sandwich

The buns

Eight almost sorta round buns.

Once again, we’re back on the King Arthur Baking Hamburger potato buns train. I wrote about this recipe last week when talking about cheeseburgers. It’s just a solid recipe for soft buns that can hold up to a messy sandwich. A lot of breaded pork tenderloins will be on Kaiser rolls. I haven’t tried knotted rolls before but maybe I’ll attempt that in the future.

As I said in my burger post, you can easily season the tops of these buns with sesame seeds or poppy seeds for extra visual interest and taste, but for these sandwiches I went with plain buns.

The breading station

Breading/Crackering station

In my version of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, I use Townhouse crackers. A lot of the traditional recipes that you’ll find online call for Saltines and a few call for Ritz crackers but I prefer Townhouse over Ritz and that’s the cracker choice that I keep in my pantry.

I start by butterflying a big hunk of pork tenderloin and pounding it between two pieces of plastic wrap (or inside of a zip top bag). There’s a slideshow of how I butterfly and pound the tenderloin down a paragraph or two if you are interested in that.

Next I set up my breading station. For this sandwich that means two bowls, one with a cracked egg with buttermilk and salt, pepper and spices and the other with finely crushed crackers. You could use panko bread crumbs or some other type of bread crumbs here too if you wanted. Crackers are just traditional here.

Butterfly and pounding

Here’s a brief glimpse on what it looks like when I butterfly a piece of pork tenderloin. I’m assuming the pounding part is self explanatory.

Breaded pork tenderloin sandwich

Here’s the recipe I use for my breaded and fried pork tenderloin sandwiches.

Fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwich

This is more of a traditional breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, fried and crispy.

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Again, we went simple with yellow mustard and some of these MSG pickles. This is a fantastic sandwich. It’s a quick recipe from start to finish and the crunch of the meat and the tenderness of the pork just works so well. And everyone knows (you know, right?) that mustard and pork are a wonderful pairing.

The fried version with pickles and yellow mustard.

Oven baked breaded pork tenderloin sandwich

Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with oil and the fryer. I get it. For those times, you can bake a pounded out pork tenderloin in the oven, breaded just like you would if you were frying. This isn’t going to get as quite as crispy or as golden brown, but it’s easy and doesn’t make a huge mess. You can also use an air fryer here, but since I don’t have one, I don’t have recipe/time/temperature. You just want to hit 150 or 155 F (65 C) for medium done pork and with pork this thin, it will carry over quite quickly to higher temperatures after removing from the oven.

Oven baked breaded pork tenderloin sandwich

This oven baked version is an easier and simpler way of cooking a breaded pork tenderloin for sandwiching.

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Oven baked version with pickles and yellow mustard.

Spice it up

After battering and frying, the pork cutlet takes a dunk into the half sriracha, half Mae Ploy mixture to coat both sides (only one side dipped here).

Sometimes you just have to spice things up and I decided to do this to a variant of the Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich.

The sriracha wings at Goose Island Clybourn used to be one of our favorites to order when visiting the brewpub. Back in 2011, a website called “The Feast” (now long since defunct) interviewed Goose Island executive chef at the time, Andrew Hroza, about the sriracha wings. The article is here, but the video seems long since removed from the internet. Luckily, I watched that video back in 2011 and (somehow) still remember it.

In the video Hroza shared that the wing sauce they had used for years was half Sriracha sauce (Amazon affiliate link) and half sweet chili sauce called Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce (Amazon affiliate link).

Since watching that video in 2011, I’ve put this combination to work many times on wings or even store bought chicken tenders. It’s spicy, sweet, unbelievably simple to make and best of all, it’s variable so if you don’t feel like being super spicy, you can just adjust the ratios of the two sauces. Buy these two sauces at your local grocery (or somewhere on the internet) and give it a shot on your next chicken wings or fried chicken tenders.

5 minutes
Old goose sriracha wing sauce

This is a recipe that an unnamed chef came up with at the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub years and years ago. Chef Andrew Hroza shared it in a video that\'s long since left the internet. I just am archiving it here because it\'s so simple and easy to adjust for spice.

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Anyway, back to the sandwich here. I decided to Sriracha sauce my final breaded pork tenderloin and I’m very happy with my choices. If you’re interested in the slaw, I’ll be posting one of my slaw recipes next week, but my blue cheese slaw recipe would work great in this spicy sandwich.

Old Goose wing sauce breaded pork tenderloin with simple slaw

This was a good week for sandwiches. The fried breaded pork tenderloin (BPT) was easily the best. The spicy version was still crunchy and spicy and messy, with a cooling slaw. The oven baked breaded pork tenderloin was also good. It was crisper than I expected and was still tender and cooked through.

My two (fairly skinny) pork tenderloins were priced right at 10 bucks and they yielded me 7 sandwiches. I could have made smaller sandwiches too. If you’re ever looking for a sandwich to change up your normal routine, butterfly, pound and bread some pork tenderloins.

Next week I’ll be back with something a little different, but sort of the same.