This sandwich originated in my home state of Indiana, and is a local favorite. I have found it on menus recently in Illinois, but for many years I got really strange looks when I talked about enjoying a "breaded pork tenderloin sandwich". It no doubt has its roots in "schnitzel" from Europe, but any Hoosier knows it as a local staple, and loves the crispy, rich, delectable sandwich. Topping it is a totally personal preference, so add pickles, ketchup, mustard, tomatoes, onions, or whatever your heart desires, there is no "standard" (we're not talking about Chicago hotdogs here!). Give this sandwich a try and you'll quickly know why it is so beloved.
This is a "how-to" more than a recipe. I'm listing the ingredients needed, however the quantity will be a bit fluid, depending on the number of sandwiches you're making. Follow the instructions and you'll have awesome results!
Pork tenderloin, cut into about 3/8-inch slices, 1 slice per sandwich
Salt & Pepper
Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs, in the bread aisle)
Saltine crackers, made into fine crumbs
Egg, beaten with 1 T. water until light with no streaks of white (One egg makes enough for 3-4 sandwiches)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Place one piece of tenderloin on a large cutting board. Salt and pepper generously on both sides. Place in a 1-gallon freezer bag. Using a meat mallet pound (using the smooth side) the tenderloin until it is as thin as possible without tearing it. It will probably be 6-inches or more across once it is pounded really thin. Repeat with the remaining slices of pork. (To make huge tenderloins, cut a thicker slice of pork, then "butterfly" it by slicing almost all of the way through it, then opening it up like a book before pounding it out. The resulting breaded tenderloin will be huge, making a double-decker sandwich because the tenderloin will need to be folded over in half to fit on a bun!)
In another freezer bag combine 1 part Panko (start with a cup) with an equal amount of cracker crumbs. Add a big pinch of salt and then roll the bag lightly with a rolling pin so that the mixture is fairly fine. Shake the mixture, then pour into a pie plate. Place the egg mixture in a separate pie plate.
Press a piece of pork into the crumb mixture, then flip and press the other side into the crumbs. Place on the cutting board, cover with plastic and roll with a rolling pin to press the crumbs into the meat well on both sides. Sprinkle more crumbs over the meat while rolling, if needed, to ensure the meat has crumbs embedded all over.
Dip pork with crumbs into the egg wash in the pie plate, turning to coat both sides, then immediately dip into the crumb mixture, pressing well to coat with crumbs.
Heat a deep fat fryer to 350-degrees, or add about 1-inch of oil to a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, gently add the breaded pork and fry until golden brown all over (turning if using a skillet). This will not take long at all, as the pork is so thin.
Drain on paper towels. Serve on a bun topped as desired.