Ask a Foodie: Where to find fresh pork tenderloin sandwiches

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By: Geoff Lesar
glesar@flavor574.com

AJ Hughes / Flavor 574

Considered by many to be an unofficial Indiana favorite, the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich is surprisingly difficult to find fresh in the northwest region of the state.

Ask a Foodie answers reader-submitted questions regarding all things food, nutrition and cooking.

This week, reader Damon Weston wanted to know: Where are the best places in the area to get a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich? And the only ones that count are the ones that make it by hand. Buying frozen patties is not allowed.

In the most recent installment of Ask a Foodie, reader Damon Weston wanted to know where to find the best breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches in the area. Frozen, pre-made patties, he said, need not apply.

Traditionally, a cut of pork is pounded, breaded, fried and served with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, although some establishments have opted to offer grilled variations.

While many area restaurants serve breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, most of those that we called said they use frozen patties. Here are a few locals we spoke with who make them from scratch.

“We do our own tenderloins and cut it off a pork loin center cut,” said Otto Selisk, manager at Maxi’s Food and Spirits Barn in South Bend. “We tenderize it, bread it and deep fry it.”

Selisk said Maxi’s offering may best others because of the peanut oil used for frying, whereas other establishes are known to use lard or shortening.

“We also use our own breading. I think that has a lot to do with it,” he said.

Washington D.C.-based food writer Lisa Cherkasky weighed in on what she believes constitutes a superlative breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

“Modern pork is so, so lean that it has to be just done, not at all overdone,” wrote Cherkasky in an email to Flavor 574. “The bread – very fresh, of course, sturdy enough to hold up to the pork, but not so strong that it puts up a fight.”

Cory Smith, a server at Miles Lab in Elkhart, cited the restaurant’s blending of traditional batter, using both dry and wet, as the reason for a distinct tasting piece of pork.

“We do offer it grilled or deep-fried. The deep-fried is beer battered and we think it makes it stand out a little more,” said Smith. “The beer batter is really crispy and flaky on the outside.”

A saucer-sized slab of meat juts out from between the Miles Lab buns. Smith attributes the slight bite in the breading to a pinch of pepper added to the dry mix.

“It’s adds flavor but doesn’t overpower the taste of the pork,” Smith said. 

At Lunker’s Angler’s Inn in Edwardsburg, the kitchen cuts 8-oz. portions of pig to be placed on a hoagie roll. 

“We take a whole pork tenderloin and pound it out, so it’s not a fritter as you would say. We then bread it in our signature Shore Lunch mix,” said manager Patty Stoffl. “The meat portion is usually enough for two sandwiches.” 

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