Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Posted by johngl

Back in the olden days, when I was in my late teens and lived in Des Moines, IA, there were these two drive-in style places that had just awesome breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches.  The first, a little place called Millie’s, where I had my very first one, and the other, George the Chili King, which was close to where I lived. George‘s has been in the same spot since 1952.  Sadly, Millie’s went away many years ago.

Anyway, both of these eateries served up crispy breaded ‘loins that actually had meat in them.  Lots of other places had what they called a pork tenderloin, but it was really breading with a sliver of meat in the middle.

Here’s my version:

breaded pork tenderloin
Breaded Pork Tenderloin with Brown Mustard, Ketchup, and Dill Pickles, on Toasted Challah Bread

I really hope that no one is offended that I paired a pork tenderloin with a Jewish egg bread. It just happened that this was the only bread we happened to have at the time.

So, since I usually start with real ingredients, lets get to it.  Clean the silver skin off of a couple of pork tenderloins:

Real pork tenderloin

Since there were only two of us, I sliced off a couple of four ounce chunks. The rest will go back into the fridge for grilling later today.

A four ounce tenderloin

If this looks like the porcine version of a tenderloin filet, you would be absolutely correct.

Notice that it is resting upon a piece of plastic wrap. This is very important.

fold over the plastic and get ready to beat your meat

Lay another layer of plastic over the top of your helpless tenderloin. Note the rubber mallet. I’ve had that thing for at least 20 years.

Guess what we all get to say now?  That’s right, it is time, once again, to beat your meat!

A light touch is better than heavy handed strokes.

flattened

Pound the little guy into submission or at least until is about 3/8″ thick throughout. It will be misshapen, but it’s nothing to worry about.

Season with salt and pepper, then cover it with the plastic wrap again.

seasoned and pounded a second time

Yes, we are actually going for round two.  With a very light touch, go over the meat once again. We’re trying to embed the seasonings into the meat.

Once that is done, it’s time to start the breading process. The white stuff is corn starch that I sifted over the tenderloin. Just take a tablespoon of corn starch and place it in a sifter. Tap lightly with a spoon.

tap on some corn starch

Some of you may wonder why I sift this on instead of dredging the meat in the corn starch. The primary reason is that I don’t like a heavy breading. I use corn starch instead of flour because it crisps up nicer and doesn’t leave a doughy taste behind.

Now, prepare for the the full-on breading:

egg and cream

That is one egg with a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream.  Put on some Devo and Whip it!

Then, dip it:

dip it

and flip it:

flip it!

Note that nice, even coating of the creamed eggs?  You wouldn’t get that without the thin layer of corn starch.

Time now to dip this into a layer of Panko bread crumbs. I’m using Panko crumbs for all of my breading needs these days.

Get a nice, even coating and lightly press them into the surface of the meat with your palm.

I also got about a 1/2″ of olive oil (not extra virgin) heating up to about 350° in a wide, flat bottomed pan.

Carefully, lay the breaded tenderloins into the fat.

into the pan they go

Just before these are ready to turn, juices from the meat will start to migrate toward the surface. The edges of the tenderloins will start to turn a nice golden color. Carefully, give them a flip.

Golden brown and delicious looking

These are about as close to perfect as they are ever gonna get. Don’t overcook them! The meat is nearly fully cooked at this point, so just get some color on the other side and pull them from that fat, allowing the extra oil to drain off.

Prepare your toasty bread:

toasty bread

I schmeared on some brown mustard, applied the loin, schmeared on some more brown mustard, a bit of ketchup, and added some dill pickles.

yummy tenderloin

We served this up with some pearl cous cous (remember, cous cous is a pasta, not a grain!) that was hydrated with some beef stock.

pork sandwich and cous cous

We popped open a bottle of 2008 Terra Noble Reserva Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley in Chile. For a $10 bottle of wine, this stuff was really pretty good. Soft with abundant flavors and scents of cherry along with a hint of strawberry, made this a good match with the sandwich and cous cous.

quite tasty!

Although Millie’s is long gone and George the Chili King is several states north of here, I believe I have hit upon a simple way to bring back some memories of youthful exuberance; memories of simpler times.

This entry was posted in Land, Meat, Recipes: Eats, Techniques, Wine and tagged , , by johngl. Bookmark the permalink.

About johngl

A bit of a wildman, John hails from the Midwest: A land of corn, cows, pigs, and a host of other healthfully meaty pursuits.

Born on a dark and stormy night in late Fall, John grew up as the son of a meat cutter. There was always plenty of meat at hand. While not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, his family certainly ate well. According to his father, that was the whole point.

39 thoughts on “Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

  1. Millies was at the northeast corner of second avenue and university ; and yes, next to the colonial bakery. When it burned down the people who had bought it were convicted of arson. There is a gas station there now.

  2. Millie’s was the best. I have read through the posts, and everyone has missed one of the ingredients that can not be replicated. Do you remember the bakery right next door? The smell of fresh baked bread would come across Millie’s lot and add an incredible ambiance to the taste of the tenderloin. Used to get the T’Loin and a quart of root beer every time. I think the sandwich was a little over $3 when you could get a McDonalds cheese burger for a quarter. Almost croaked when the place burned down.

  3. thanks for the memories- I too am in northern ca, nothing like those millie’s tenderloins any where out here

  4. Ha yes all Millies was the best, to bad that the rest of the family didnt continue to carry on. I grew up on the west side ( WDM) and would drive to the east side just for a great tenderloin, hell i would eat two and take one home, oh and im not fat either lol. Wish smokinphil would share the receipe but maybe he doesnt have it. Come Phil helps us out bring back the memories for all. Be a good guy, not saying you’re not but …… Had heard that Millies had moved out on Arm Post and meant to contact them to see if i could get a case flown out to Az, think i did try to contact them but got no response. Anyway Phil wish you would share. thanks John in Az.

    • MILLIE’S NEVER MOVED TO THE SOUTH SIDE-THERE WAS A RESTAURANT OUT THERE ON ARMY POST ROAD NAMED SMITTY’S AND THEY WERE ALSO KNOWN FOR THEIR TENDERLOINS-NOT BAD, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS MILLIE’S. MILLIE’S WAS BOUGHT OUT BY A COUPLE OF DES MOINES POLICE OFFICERS AND THEIR WIVES AND IT BURNED TO THE GROUND LESS THAN 1-1/2 YEARS AFTER THEY BOUGHT IT. IT WAS NOT AS GOOD AS THE ORIGINAL MILLIE’S. DON’T KNOW WHO HAD THE ORIGINAL RECIPES, BUT SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE THEM AND BE WILLING TO SHARE THEM, ESPECIALLY AFTER THIS MANY YEARS.

  5. i have tried to duplicate millies many times. i have come close. i am thinking maybe some things just cant be duplicated without being there. i remember the tenderloin overlaping the oversized bun to where we ate the delicious breaded tenderloin around the edges and then dived into to the heart of the sandwich. Tom farmer,graduateed Roosevelt 1966.Born and raiseed Des Moines.

    • That particular consumption technique was employed by many! I loved that fresh-fried resounding crunch as I ate my way toward the bun! I do miss Millie’s!

  6. A good breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is hard to beat, but I haven’t been able to find one here in Tyler,TX. I grew up in Winterset, Iowa, and made several trips to Des Moines, before moving there in the 80’s. One of the ONLY things I miss about Iowa, BPTL sandwiches, Iowa Pork producers stand at the Iowa State Fair, and the ice cold Root beer from those wood barrels that were always along the are by the varied indsustries building! Hey, Don’t forget Smitty’s on Army Post Road! They were good too!

    • Hey, I remember Smitty’s! I’d spaced them completely!

      Good pork tenderloins are hard to find here in TX (even here in Austin) since they are so beef/barbecue focused (my theory), hence making my own.

      Thanks for visiting!

  7. I found this today when looking for info on Breaded Pork Tenderloins. WHAT A FIND! My wife worked on duplicating them for four or five years before passing away 10 years ago, and never quite got there. This looks like a GREAT recipe.. I transferred from Firestone to California in 1966 and have never missed it
    I graduated from East High in 1957 and probably spent half of my time at Mille’s Drive-In. Whenever anyone from Firestone had to go back to Des Moines for a funeral or wedding, we would all chip in and have them take an extra empty suitcase and get it filled with tenderloiins and be waiting for them when they landed.
    You have “warmed my heart” this night and I cant thank you enough. What a great job on the inform,ation, and photos. If you ever get near Sacramento, CA, please call me and I will buy you dinner.

    Roger A. Hanson
    5601 Natomas Blvd. # 3102
    Sacramento, CA 95835 (916) 670-9111

    • I never thought of filling a suitcase with tenderloins!

      And a great many thanks for the offer of dinner. I don’t get around Sacramento much these days, but if I’m ever out your way, don’t be surprised if I happen to show up at your doorstep!

      Thanks for the kind note. I’ve been vacationing the last couple of weeks and this kind of note is exactly what keeps me posting on this blog!

  8. I didn’t read your whole article, but I found it when I googled “Millie’s Drive-in, Des Moines, Iowa.” I was born and raised in Des Moines, but basically moved away after I graduated high school in 1965. Millie’s was one of my favorite destinations, and the pork tenderloin sandwiches I enjoyed there have never seen there equal. They are still my favorite fair/festival food, and I never eat one without thinking of Millie’s and home. Sorry to hear they are still not around.

    • CONVERSATION THIS EVENING ABOUT MILLIES DRIVE IN AND ITS ORIGNAL LOCATION. I SAY 2ND AVE SOUTH OF UNIVERSITY ON THE HILL. HUSBAND SAYS UNIVERSITY. BORN AND RAISED IN DM AND DON’T THINK MY MEMORY IS THAT BAD YET.
      ANOTHER DRIVE IN WAS PARK LANE ON HARDING RD. BEST PIZZA BURGERS. IN THE LATE 50’S.

      • My mind’s eye is picturing it being on the north side of University, just east of Mercy Hospital. I too was born and raised in the area, but will admit my mind’s eye is developing cataracts.

        • Exactly correct John. When it burnt, they had had real honest to goodness “car hops”! The owner I believe had been a retired DMPD officer. Then, it moved to Army Post Road. But it was never as good, as when it was across from Mercy Hospital!

  9. You can kick the tenderloin up even another notch…but it takes a little patience. 🙂 After pounding the piggies flat, take a large glass casserole dish and pour in some buttermilk. Put one layer of tenderloin in, pour over more buttermilk, etc., until all the flat piggies are swimming. Top the dish with the rest of the buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap, and into the fridge. Overnight. Seriously. It’s worth the wait.

    When you’re ready to fry ’em next day, just let the excess buttermilk drip off and dredge them in your coating. (Panko is great – cornflake crumbs are a nice alternative for extra crunch.) No seasoning needed – the tangy buttermilk works its magic there. The meat will literally melt in your mouth after the buttermilk marinade. It tenderizes like no pounding ever could.

    Never had a tenderloin on toasted challah – man, that looks GOOD!

    • Not even close. I’m a grandchild of Mildred and Elwin Husted, the original owners. My father worked there too. Simple recipe that many would be amazed by. Panko? Really?

      • Hey smokinphil, as I recall it was a cornmeal breading, seemingly confirmed with your disdain for Planko with which I concur. Wondering if you have the recipe, of course. I also think it might have had some baking powder or soda which gave it the loft. Am I on the right track?? With encouragement i am planning to try. Millie’s is the gold standard of pork tenderloins, in my book, and I am always on the lookout for a cornmeal based breading. Quite rare in this day and age. Are you in Des Moines?

        • Hey Carolyn, thanks for stopping by! I’m hoping you can get that recipe out of SmokinPhil. I’ve been waiting (impatiently) for him to come through with it.

  10. Hi, stranger! I’m using this recipe for our neighborhood Super Bowl party on Sunday. Wish me luck and stop on by for a sample! I’m taking care of Indiana and Mark is cooking for New Orleans…it’s a friendly competition between two people who cannot cook:)

  11. My Dad worked for George The Chili King in the 50s while in college. He told many stories about working there.

    When I lived in Iowa I used to work for a major hospital in Des Moines and on the way home from work I would stop and get beefburgers, tenderloins, onion rings, etc. and take them to my Dad’s house. He asked me not to do that in the winter anymore, the grease is much better at the restaurant before it had solidified by the time I got to his house in Johnston. ;o)

    Great memories!

  12. Arrgh! Now you’ve made me terribly hungry. I’m going to have to make some pork tenderloin sandwiches myself. One of the few things I actually miss from Iowa…

  13. Pingback: Happy Saturday and ANOTHER Happy Birthday! « Biggest Diabetic Loser

  14. dear john (i laugh), tonight i purchased a beautiful piece of opah. i go to google for recipe ideas and found you; how bizarre. i live in austin and made my golden purchase at CM. i love your page – great spirit. thanks! (not so sure about the fried pig on chalah bread… an irony of sorts.) happy cooking!

  15. I bought pork tenderloins this week (you’ll be jealous of my $.99 a pound sale!) to make pork medallians with mustard maple glaze, but I think you may have converted me! 😀

    It looks delicious, and pretty sure Tony would love it!

  16. YOW… I am a sucker for those big as a Frisbee breaded tenderloin sandiches… Come on a small bun, with usually only two pickle slices…

    Now THIS IS my childhood.

    Great post, terrific memories

    • I’m a native Des Moines girl from Urbandale, I lived at the Chili King during High School……Love the Tenderloins. Watched George the Chili King guy on Food network. His recipe had cracker crumbs. That made it one of a kind and fabulous. Always visit the Chili King for fun when I go home for a visit. Reminds me of High School, hanging out at the Chili King, tenderloins with a Pepsi and scooping the loop….haha, what fun then! Everyone had great cars too!

      • Hmmmm…cracker crumbs…

        Living just a few blocks from George the Chili King made it my go-to place to eat. Wonderful memories!

        Thanks for popping in!

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