Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich


Before I even ‘talk food’, I just want to extend a sincere, from-the-bottom-of-my-heart “thank you and grazie” to all of you (100’s of bloggers and social network friends) who wrote to me to offer me your prayers and positive thoughts for the event that took place in my life.  Although the situation hasn’t disappeared, my husband and I felt that blogging with my friends about our shared passion for cooking, gardening, and travel  . . . is really tremendous therapy for me.  I started to read your posts last week to see everything that you’ve been cooking up and I have to still say that you are all some of the best cooks on the planet!!  I will get right back to commenting very soon . . . promise!

So I’m at a point now where I’m ready to return to my community of friends!  I truly believe that all of your prayers and positive thoughts sent my way will be answered in the right way and at the right time!



OK . . . now it’s foodie time!

New York has it’s famous pizza.
Chicago has it’s deep-dish pizza and Chicago Vienna Beef hot dugs.
Buffalo, NY has hot wings.
Boston has it’s beans.
New Orleans has muffalettas.
San Francisco has it’s sour dough bread.
And the South has shrimp and grits and pimento cheese!
So how about the Midwest; what stands out besides corn on the cob, buttery corn-fed beef or the State Fair’s butter cow sculpture?

Well, hold on and I’ll tell you about something that few people outside of the Midwest know of . . . . and it was recently featured in Cook’s Country (Cooks Illustrated) magazine.  It’s the Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich.

This classic Midwestern sandwich even has it’s own web-site created by a dedicated connoisseur:  Pursuing the Pork Tenderloin Sandwich, a discussion/debate on the sandwich on Chowhoundplus a blog! The web-site also provides a list of numerous restaurants, diners, and eateries that serve this sandwich.  There is even a DEBATE over where the sandwich originated:  Was it Iowa, Illinois, or Indiana (the three “I” states in the Midwest)?

Well, I have no idea which state it originated from, but I know that there are more hogs in Iowa than there are people, so I’m voting for Iowa as the source . . . I’m just sayin’!  No offense to any of my friends and relatives in Illinois and Indiana!  Besides Iowa doesn’t have any professional sports, so give it some credit for something besides Maytag Bleu Cheese and Amana appliances!

Many of you know that my roots are from the Midwest.  My parents’ restaurant (Italian and American food) used to have these sammies on their menu and they sold as fast as hot dogs at a baseball game.  Every summer I had to have one when we’d stop at a roadside diner half-way through our 4-hour drive to Lake Okoboji in Iowa (up at the border of Minnesota).

It was a ritual !!

And this year, for the first time during one of my annual summer visits to Iowa, I brought back some super-sized pork tenderloins for this sandwich.  It’s been a LONG time, maybe even 10 years since I’ve had one of these guys!

Now to make these huge sandwiches, there are a few rules to follow:

– It must be huge, twice the size as the bun, and hanging out all over.  “think outside the bun”  ha ha!
– It must be a tenderized piece of pork tenderloin and not some tough pork ‘chop’.
– It must be served with mustard and pickles; other condiments are OK, but not necessary (lettuce, mayo, onions, tomatoes).

So here’s a great recipe for you:


Iowa Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
  • For the breading:
  • Use even amounts of each of the following (start with one cup each):
  • Flour
  • Super-fine crushed saltine crackers
  • Panko bread crumbs or white cornmeal
  • Depending upon how many tenderloins that you are breading, just make up more breading if you need to.
  • For the wet batter:
  • 1 cup whole milk (some use buttermilk)
  • 2 jumbo eggs
  • minced garlic or garlic powder (to taste, I just sprinkle it all over the milk/eggs)
  • couple shakes of paprika (some use cayenne pepper)
  • Also depending upon how many tenderloins that you are marinating, just make up more batter if you need to.
  1. Prepare the wet batter.
  2. Pour into a ceramic/glass baking pan.
  3. Place the pork tenderloins in the wet batter.
  4. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator OVERNIGHT — this really makes them tender, tender!
  5. The next day:
  6. Prepare the dry breading mixture in a large cake pan or something similar because these are BIG and need the space for the breading process.
  7. Remove tenderloins from the marinade and place in the dry breading, lightly pressing down so that the breading gets into all of the crevices of the tenderized pork.
  8. Gently flip over and repeat.
  9. Now if you really want the real deal: Dip the breaded tenderloins ONCE AGAIN in the marinade and then double-dip them again in the breading!! It may be messy, but it will really be BREADED thickly!
  10. Heat canola oil to 350 degrees. The oil MUST be hot.
  11. Deep fry in a deep cast iron pan (I use my Le Crueset) or in a deep fryer (which I don’t have).
  12. Fry for 3 minutes.
  13. Serve hot.
  14. Salt to taste.
  15. Place on buns with pickles and mustard.
Original Recipe Web Page on La Bella Vita Cucina:

This recipe is from my parents' recipe from "The Safari" restaurant that they owned and operated in Ames, Iowa in the 60's and 70's before they retired. This sandwich sold out every night!

Roz Corieri Paige

Enjoy this Midwestern treat!

This bad boy was so big, that Mr. M. and P. (meat and potatoes) split it with me!


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  1. says

    I’m so happy to see that you’re back and enjoying some good food! I’ve been thinking of you and hoping things are getting better. Hang in there, Roz!

    I’m from the Midwest also (Ohio) and I have had this sandwich on occasion. Never, ever has it looked this good though! Your pictures actually have me salivating:)

  2. says

    So glad you are back and this sandwich look insanely delicious! Something about the combination of pork, mustard & pickles – wow! My husband would go nuts for this too – thanks for sharing and I hope you are feeling better – Big Hug!!!

  3. says

    Hi Roz,

    Happy to see you back cooking and posting these lovely recipes!

    Life is just way too short to give up the things we so enjoy. Keep looking up my friend :)

  4. says

    Roz! My goodness. My heart skipped a beat when I saw a blog post from you in my feeder. So great that you’re back on board. I hope everything is sorted now.

    That sandwich is something else. I have pork leg steaks in the freezer and I think they may be made into these.

    Anne @ Domesblissity xx

  5. says

    I am so happy to see you back on these pages Roz. There is nothing like kitchen and blog therapy. I had a chicken version of this sandwich when I was in Ontario this summer…and to say the breast was 3 times the size of the bun is no exageration.

  6. Leigh says

    Yea!!!! You’re back. Although I don’t post recipes here, I adore your blog, and have made some of the wonderful foods on here.
    Just wanted you to know that I have been saying prayers for you. We have all missed you and are so happy you are here again xoxoxox

  7. says

    Hello! I’ve never commented on your gorgeous blog before, but I’ve loved your posts and recipes. Delighted to see your words again!

    Isn’t it interesting that this sandwich MUST have mustard and pickles, which [I think] is also a requirement of the Cubano? Pork, despite its versatility, seems to cry out for certain flavors.

    Have a great day. Thanks for making so many people happy!

  8. says

    First of all I am so glad you are back- for the most part. again, I have no idea what has happened but I know I love sharing the joy you get from talking about food and recipes and I for one and so exited to hear from you again. What a winner you chose to as your first back to blogging post. This sandwich is fantastic. I love breaded meat sandwiches and this tops the cake!

  9. says

    It is so great to meet you! Thanks for commenting and following, right back at ya!

    That is a crazy sandwich, just up my foodie alley. Hope you enjoy the figs and I am sorry to hear you are going through some struggles. It seems to be rampant these days, I can relate. I do hope that life gets better for everyone soon. We could all use it! Until then, continue with the double battering, LOL, love it!

  10. says

    Doesn’t it just make you warm and fuzzy by all the blog love that is out there. My blogger friends help ease my own personal pain, during some personal losses. It’s nice to see you are back. You are family.
    As for the sandwich– Holy Schnitzel! My husband is from the midwest. I’ll have to ask him about this sandwich. Better yet, I can guarantee I’ll make it. I always buy pork tenderloins, and I’m a huge fan of Cook’s Country. This isn’t low-cal, but who cares? Sometimes, ya just have to live it up. Looks crunchy and golden.

  11. says

    I am so glad that you are back blogging!
    This recipe post looks delicious. I have never had this tasty sandwich and it is a nice change of pace. Well done.

  12. says

    This is the best news I’ve had in a long time. You are back! I am so glad. I’ve missed you terribly. I’m so sorry I wasn’t the first one to get here to tell you so. Lots going on up my way and I haven’t been out-and-about as much as I would like.

    This sandwich is something. I’ve never seen anything like it. Would love to dive right in.

    Again Roz, so so very happy to see you back in our world. You’ve been on my mind. Hope things continue to improve and your life gets back to normal very, very soon.

  13. says

    Roz! Stopped by today to see what has been going on since I haven’t seen any posts lately…So glad you are back in the swing of things, I hope everything is okay!!! That is one large and in charge sammy! xoxo

  14. says

    I am so excited to see you today! Welcome back, we missed you so much and are so happy that you are back.Your sandwich looks so delicious. I know I would really love that sandwich. I still have you on my prayer list and will continue to keep you in Gods arms.
    Miz Helen

  15. says

    Roz!!!! Hooray!!! I’m so glad to see a blog post from you. I hope you know how much we missed you.

    Wow, you made this perfectly! So crispy and wonderful. I know my boys would go nuts for this.

    Welcome back, my friend! xoxo

  16. says

    Hi Roz, So happy you are back and sharing your love of food with all of us. Sometimes we need to keep on doing things we love in order to heal.

    Thanks for sharing the sammie, it looks delicious.


  17. says

    Hi Rozabella! (hee hee) I am not sure what had happened, but in any case I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Sending you a big hug your way. God Bless, Annamaria

  18. says

    I am just no longer sure where you’re helping your data, although beneficial subject matter. My spouse and i needs to commit quite some time mastering far more and also working out a lot more. Thank you for fantastic information I had been trying to find this info for my mission.

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