Food & Swine

Pork Tenderloin & Pig Twigs

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.
You’ll Need:
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:

Crop Scouting with Grandpa…
Will make one tired mini-farmer.
I just love this picture.

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.

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  • Reply Kate September 3, 2014 at 1:07 am

    Ummm! Will try!! Bet kids will love these:)

  • Reply Farm Eats, City Streets September 3, 2014 at 1:28 am

    The “pig twigs” look delicious and something even my picky little eaters would love. The pic of your little guy asleep in the car is adorable. Reminds me of my little farmer!

  • Reply Colette Crock September 3, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Love the “pig twigs”! Will have to give those a shot!! :)

  • Reply Frustrated Stepmom September 3, 2014 at 1:30 am

    Love the “Pig Twigs”! Will have to give those a shot!!

  • Reply Darren Baetsle September 3, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Guess what’s for dinner tomorrow!! Can the chocolate chip cookies be substituted for oatmeal raisin :) Keep those awesome recipes coming.

    • Reply Cristen September 5, 2014 at 5:08 am

      Darren B. you are the winner of the cookies and $10 in bacon bucks. Please email me your address to foodandswineinfo at gmail dot com! Thanks everyone! :) Keep an eye out for more sneaky giveaways!

  • Reply Lois September 3, 2014 at 2:29 am

    I love goodies tenderloins
    I go each time I visit colfax

  • Reply ceil slings September 3, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Oh wow!! This looks great! That is one tired looking little boy!

  • Reply Miss Molly September 3, 2014 at 2:33 am

    I always have trouble getting mine to fry evenly. Perhaps I need to invest in a cast iron skillet? Love love love the idea of the cracker crust. Wonder if crushed potato chips would work??

  • Reply Carri Lauterbach September 3, 2014 at 2:34 am

    I love tenderloins and I think you pig twigs are a fabulous idea!!

  • Reply Danelle Kemery September 3, 2014 at 3:13 am

    Thanks for the recipe! I love breaded loins! We are lucky to have two awesome local places that serve amazing breaded loins, Mickie D’s in Clearfield Iowa and the Elms Club in Creston Iowa. If you make it to Southwest Iowa stop in for one you won’t be disappointed!

  • Reply Brenda September 3, 2014 at 4:46 am

    Sounds delicious and quick. Will definitely be trying the pig twigs for my grandsons.

  • Reply Charlotte McClellan September 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I love the idea of using the butterfly pork chops and I love the name, pig twigs.

  • Reply Emily Simmons September 3, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Those look amazing! I’m going to have to try this!

  • Reply Kate September 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Love your idea of using chicken in a biskit crackers…I normally use saltines but I’m going to be trying out your recipe this week! I have pork loin just waiting to be cut and tenderized into some amazing Tenderloins! :)

  • Reply Alise Allan September 3, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    The pork loin for supper just took on a whole new identity. Pork Tenderloin and mashed potatoes tonight!

  • Reply Sally Emery September 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Where do you find the Kings Hawaiian buns?

    • Reply Cristen September 4, 2014 at 12:06 am

      HyVee Walmart Fareway and sometimes Target! :)

  • Reply garcinia atroviridis September 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    There’s definately a lot to find out about this subject. I really like all of the points you’ve made.

  • Reply Cristen September 5, 2014 at 5:08 am

    Darren B. you are the winner of the cookies and $10 in bacon bucks. Please email me your address to foodandswineinfo at gmail dot com! Thanks everyone! :) Keep an eye out for more sneaky giveaways!

  • Reply becky friedrich September 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Love Pork! Love Duroc pigs !

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