Recently I’ve had the opportunity to judge some pork tenderloins at various restaurants around the Des Moines area for the 2014 Iowa Pork Producers “Best Tenderloin in Iowa” contest. There were over 150 restaurants nominated for this contest and no, I didn’t have to eat that many pork tenderloins. Thank goodness, because my jeans are already tight enough as it is! When the contest is over, I’ll clue you in on the sandwiches I judged… there is one nearby that you NEED to know about. Mum is the word for now.
After trying the best tenderloins around town, I decided to set out and make my own. The result: one of the most popular dinners I’ve ever made for my family. I wanted to call this recipe “DAMN! Pork Tenderloin”, because my husband exclaimed “DAMN!” when he took his first bite. This sandwich has a great balance of pork to breading, tender meat, no brining no messing around and I had it on the table in less than 10 minutes. Best part you ask? I’d heard of a nearby restaurant, Goldie’s in Prairie City (past winner of the “Best Tenderloin in Iowa” contest), and how they cut their tenderloin in strips as an option. No sandwich bun, just the hand breaded, fried tenderloin, cut into strips. The owner, Brad, is a genius for this! I used this technique and my children raved over the “Pig Twigs” as my friend and former co-worker/radio host coined these strips of breaded pork tenderloin. The kids dipped the Pig Twigs in ranch and it was all over. Move over chicken strips… there’s a new dish in town.
Snag the Boneless Butterfly Chops (which are usually on sale, 2 for $4 or 2 for $5). Have the guys at the meat counter tenderize them for you. They will run them through a machine, no charge. For our family of 4, we just prepare 2 of the boneless butterfly chops. Oh, and don’t skimp on the buns, these King’s Hawaiian buns are the real deal! They were the bun of my Sutter Home Winery Build A Better Burger Competition’s $17,500 Sour Apple Pork Burger and they work mighty fine here too.
Do me a favor, and every other pig farmer you know… next time your kids are begging you for some chicken strips, give us pork friends a try and make these fancy Pig Twigs. I think your kids will fall fast like mine once they have a taste, and I can tell you I’m IN LOVE because they are so quick and easy to make with the chops already tenderized and the portioning done immediately prior to serving.
I’ll leave you with a picture from the Iowa State Fair. We invited many kids to get a closer look at our Duroc gilt “Cookie Dough”, after she showed. The kids marveled at the stiffness of her hair and the warmth of her body. They enjoyed her ears and she was completely comfortable being around them. My daughter enjoyed telling any willing body that would listen, all about her pigs and our farm. I’m so grateful for everyone who stopped by to see her glitter signs and the pride she had in her hogs. Thank you if you were there to listen.
Cristen’s Pork Tenderloin and Pig Twigs
Makes 2 mega sandwiches or 4 large sandwiches or 20-24 Pig Twigs
Takes: Roughly 10 minutes plus additional time if your oil won’t heat quickly.
1 QT peanut or vegetable oil
1 C flour
1 C cornstarch (this makes it extra crispy!)
2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 tsp ground black pepper (optional)
2 eggs, well beaten
3 TBSP milk
1/2 package of Chicken in a Biskit crackers, crushed, or other crackers/Panko etc.
4 boneless butterfly chops, tenderized
additional seasoned salt or sea salt for sprinkling post-frying
4 King’s Hawaiian Sandwich Buns, buttered, toasted (these are the big ones they sell 4 per package)
Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Combine flour and cornstarch on a large paper plate. Add Lawry’s and pepper, if using. In a separate paper plate add beaten eggs and milk, mix together. In a third paper plate, add crushed crackers plus 2 TBSP of flour/cornstarch mixture. Mix well. Remove tenderloin pieces, if you desire making smaller sandwiches, cut in half vertically. Dredge each piece of tenderized pork in flour, shake excess. Dip in egg/milk mixture, shake excess. Dredge in cracker crumb mixture. Place on clean plate and repeat with other pieces until complete. When ready to fry, be sure oil is 350 degrees. Fry 2 pieces or 1 large piece of meat at a time in 350 degree oil, for 2 minutes and until golden brown. Use a meat thermometer to test doneness, at least 145 degrees. Remove to paper towel lined plate, let cool 1 minute before adding to bun for sandwich. Sprinkle with salt if you like additional seasoning. Butter and toast buns. Assemble sandwiches and serve. For Pig Twigs: Let rest 3-5 minutes if slicing into strips. (You want the meat to retain its moisture and if you cut it too soon, it will release the juices). This will also prevent those precious little ones from being burned from the hot Pig Twigs. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2 days in the refrigerator. Leftovers? You what? If you have them: reheat in microwave (may be soggy) or in warm oven (best bet).
*All opinions in this post and always = my own. This is not a sponsored post.
More pictures from today:
Read this far again? Comment below, anything you’d like (even your favorite way to dress your Pork Tenderloin sandwich) and you’re in a drawing… the prize? 1 dozen homemade chocolate chip cookies and $10 in Bacon Bucks! (Money to spend on bacon!) Will draw the winner this Friday at 5:00 PM CST.