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.
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.
Edit from the future: here’s my adaptation of the above recipe that has been scaled down for 6 buns instead of 8 or 9.
The breading 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.
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.
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.
Spice it up
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.
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.Get Recipe
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.
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.