As you have read here before, almost everything tastes better when served inside two slices of (good) bread. Or maybe a nice crusty roll. And many regions of the country have their own sandwich specialties.
Go to New England and you find the lobster or clam strip roll. In Philadelphia, you eat a hoagie or cheesesteak or—my personal favorite—the roast pork Italiano. The mid-Atlantic region has crabcake or softshell crab sandwiches. Go further south Memphis and feast on pulled pork sandwiches. Go even further south to Louisiana and you find the magnificent po-boy overflowing with shrimp, crawfish, catfish, or oysters. And who can forget Chicago and the Chicago hot dog and Italian roast beef sandwich.
Which brings us to Iowa. When most people think of Iowa they think of corn. But did you know that Iowa also raises more pigs than any other state in the Union? And that brings us to the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich--Iowa’s greatest gift to the gastronomic world.
“A Pork Tenderloin sandwich is traditionally prepared from a thinly sliced piece of pork tenderloin, hammered thin with a meat mallet. The meat is then dipped in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs before being deep fried in oil. After cooking, the prepared Pork Tenderloin is then served on a hamburger bun. The sandwich can be served with condiments such as mustard, lettuce, onions, pickles, and mayonnaise” (wikipedia.com). Misinformed Hoosiers believe that the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich originated in Huntington, Indiana and name Nicholas Freinstein as its creator. We highly intelligent Hawkeyes know that the breaded pork tenderloin is early Iowa German settlers’ adaptation of the Wiener Schnitzel.
So while in the birthplace of the breaded pork tenderloin, it was my mission to eat as many as possible. So we take you back a week to our brief stop in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Needing lunch, we made the short drive to Jerry’s Family Restaurant which is perhaps best known for having served President Obama a piece of pie and cup of coffee during a surprise visit on April 27, 2010. Jerry’s the kind of homey place that places rice in the salt shaker to retard clumping.
Chuck’s lunch was the Hot Roast Beef Sandwich Special with mashed potatoes and gravy. Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Wish it were as good as it looks.
My choice—obviously—was the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich with my three standard condiments—onion, dill pickle, and yellow mustard—on a toasted bun (extra points for toasting the roll). The tenderloin was large with two ends extending beyond the bun and the breading was a reddish-brown in color. The “baseball mitt” cupped shape is not uncommon with in-house flattened and breaded tenderloins. There was a nice crust on the meat, but the edges were drier than I would have liked.
Rating for Jerry’s--2.5 Addies.
The next stop on the pork tenderloin highway was Red’s Alehouse in North Liberty, IA, and we were joined on that outing by Jerry and Barb Zinn.
Jerry chose the Clubhouse Melt with turkey, ham, Swiss, cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and “house” sauce on Texas toast.
Barb selected the Margherita Flatbread with olive oil, tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil.
For Chuck, it was the Steak Sandwich with sliced hanger steak, demi-glace, onion tangles, and Swiss cheese on a ciabatta “hoagie” roll. This had great flavor, but unfortu-nately a few of the slices of steak contained a fairly large amount of gristle.
For me—of course—it was Red’s version of the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich served with red cabbage slaw. The condiments of choice were again onion, pickle, and yellow mustard.
How do I say this? The sandwich was almost too good. While it slightly extended beyond the bun, it was almost too thick and too juicy. How do you explain that a real breaded pork tenderloin is maybe one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch thick before the breading is applied? You lose some of the crisp, some of the crunch when the meat is much thicker.
Still, even though not your standard breaded pork tenderloin, this was better than that at Hamburg Inn No. 2, and this lunch earns a 4.0 Addie rating.