A pork tenderloin sandwich is just about as midwestern as you can get. It was the main dish for our Indiana state dinner, but it is also really popular in Iowa! It is a great recipe to make when you are craving crispy comfort food. The meat is pounded thin, marinated in seasoned buttermilk, then breaded and fried. You know it is a real Hoosier breaded pork tenderloin sandwich when the meat overhangs the bun. It is a little bit messy, and a whole lot of good!
How to Flatten Your Meat
Most pork tenderloin sandwich recipes call for a one-pound pork tenderloin. The smallest I could find was a 3-pound tenderloin, which worked fine, but it meant that we ended up with 8 pieces instead of the intended 4. This all worked out, as the meat freezes really well! A little bit later in the post, I will share with you how to freeze your marinated pork tenderloin. First, we will walk through how to prepare it for your pork tenderloin sandwich.
Assuming that you are working with a one-pound tenderloin, cut your meat into four equal pieces. If your tenderloin is larger than a pound, cut an additional piece for every ¼-1/2 pound of meat. The actual thickness of each piece may vary, as you want to cut the tapered end wider than the thicker section of the meat. Place inside a plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap. Pound the meat with the flat side of a mallet. If you don't have a meat mallet then a regular household rubber mallet works well. Start from the middle of the meat and angle your blows slightly outwards, working your way around the surface of the meat. Continue until the meat is ¼-inch in thickness.
Making Your Sandwich Have Lots of Flavor
A great pork tenderloin sandwich has layers of flavor. This is achieved through marinating the meat in seasoned buttermilk, and then coating it in flour, more seasoned buttermilk, and seasoned panko and cracker crumbs. Yum!
The marinade is a mix of eggs, buttermilk, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne. The eggs and buttermilk help to tenderize the pork and the seasonings begin to infuse into the meat as it marinates. There are some Hoosier Pork Tenderloin sandwich recipes that skip the marinating step, but we love how juicy, tender, and flavorful it makes the meat! I recommend marinating in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours.
When you are ready to cook your pork, remove the pork from your refrigerator and pour the buttermilk mixture into a shallow pan. Set up another pan with flour, and a third with the seasoned panko and cracker crumbs. Wipe any excess buttermilk off of the pork pieces. Dip one piece at a time into the flour dredging both sides, then the buttermilk, and finally the seasoned panko and cracker crumbs. Press the crumbs firmly into the pork. Set each pork tenderloin piece aside on a plate or parchment for 10 minutes. This allows the breading to adhere to the meat and will help keep it from falling off when you fry it.
Frying Your Pork Tenderloin
Heat ¼-1/2-inches of oil in your cast iron skillet or a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat. You will want your oil between 350-370 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, look for the oil to begin shimmering. If you drop a crumb into the oil it should immediately sizzle. Working in batches of 2 at a time, fry your breaded pork tenderloin on 2-3 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown. Because the tenderloin is so thin it doesn't take long to cook up! Once browned, remove and place on a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate. Repeat these steps with your remaining pieces.
What Do I Put On My Hoosier Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich?
The real answer to this question is "Whatever you want!!" But if you are looking to replicate a classic Hoosier breaded pork tenderloin sandwich then you will want to have these classic toppings on hand. When you get this sandwich in Indiana the standard toppings include mayonnaise, mustard, dill pickle slices, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Yep, not only does this sandwich have meat that is so big it overhangs the bun, but it is piled high with toppings as well!
Can I Freeze the Meat?
Yes, this meat freezes very well! Prior to breading or cooking, place an individual portion of pork in a freezer bag, along with some of the marinade. Make sure that the marinade is distributed around all of the meat. It can be kept in the freezer for up to 9 months. When you are ready to use it, just place in the refrigerator about 24 hours prior to cooking. The marinade will continue to tenderize and flavor the pork as the meat thaws. Follow the steps listed above to cook this as a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich, or grill it as a flavorful pork cutlet!
Crispy fries are the perfect accompaniment to your Hoosier Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich, and we have the perfect recipe for you!
Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp cayenne
- 1 cup flour
- 10 Saltine crackers
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp garlic powder
- ⅛ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- Slice the pork tenderloin into 4 pieces. One piece at a time, cover in plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag. Using meat pounder or mallet, pound to ¼-inch thickness.
- Mix together eggs, buttermilk, garlic, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add pork tenderloin pieces and stir to coat each piece. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 4-12 hours.
- After at least 4 hours, remove the pork from your refrigerator and pour the buttermilk mixture into a shallow bowl. Set up another bowl with flour, and a third with the seasoned panko and cracker crumbs. Wipe excess buttermilk off of the pork pieces. Dip one piece at a time into the flour dredging both sides, then the buttermilk, and finally the seasoned panko and cracker crumbs. Press the crumbs firmly into the pork. Set each pork tenderloin piece aside on a plate or parchment for 10 minutes.
- Heat ½-inches of oil in your cast iron skillet or a heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat to 360 degrees. Working in batches of 2 at a time, pan fry your breaded pork tenderloin for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown. Remove and place on a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate. Repeat these steps with your remaining pieces.