One of the best things I've ever tasted that just doesn't exist anywhere but Iowa, Indiana and southern Illinois is the elusive pork tenderloin sandwich. It's a pork tenderloin that is butterflied, flattened about a molecule thick, breaded with cornmeal and Japanese breadcrumbs, deep-fried and thrown on a hamburger bun. For this to be authentic, the loin must hang at least 1-2 inches outside of the bun on all sides. It's best served with ranch dressing or barbecue sauce, and now that I've had them together, with Bacon Salt.
When I moved to Seattle, I searched high and low for a really good pork tenderloin sandwich recipe. About 2 years ago, I found this one, which is absolutely delicious (a more traditional format and back-story for this recipe can be found here). In honor of the Iowa-Iowa State football game on today, my college roommate and I (who also lives in Seattle) tried the recipe with some new twists and learned the following:
- First, we put Peppered Bacon Salt in the buttermilk marinade instead of using hot sauce or cayenne. The Peppered Bacon Salt still gives it a bit of a kick, but it's even better with the bacon-ey taste infused into the meat.
- Second, we found that Original Bacon Salt in the breading, on top of the finished sandwich, and even in the ranch dressing was absolutely delicious. For some reason, Original works best with the breading. Hickory didn't work quite as well for some reason, although it's still our favorite flavor.
- Third, we learned that the Hawkeyes really really suck this year. They lost to Iowa State despite being 14 point favorites.
Oh well, at least the sandwiches were excellent! We both agreed that they were the best tenderloins we'd ever made, and they're always delicious with a Bacon Salted Bloody Mary wake-up call to really get your blood flowing in the morning.
Cook's note: We don't have a deep fat fryer, and you don't really need one to make this recipe work. We use a pan filled about an inch with vegetable oil and set it on medium-high heat, then pan fried the loins and set them in between paper towels on a plate to keep them warm until ready to serve. Also, keep close watch over the loins and be sure the oil's not smoking so you don't burn your sandwiches!