Welcome to week 19 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome the state of Indiana, who joined the union on December 11, 1816. Indiana is often referred to as The Hoosier State, and I wanted to know where this odd name came from. It seems to date back as far as the early 1830s. Honestly, I never did find out! There are about a half dozen explanations as to where it originated, but none of them has ever been defined as the “real” history. Here are two of the most popular.
The Who’s Here Story. This story describes Indianans as a nosy bunch, and would call out “Who’s Here” to every house they passed. There is also a version that a homeowner would call out “Who’s ‘ere” when someone knocked on their door. This evolved over time to Hoosier.
Then there is The Who’s Ear Story. This one is attributed to James Whitcomb Riley, author of “The Hoosier Poet,” who facetiously suggested the term “Hoosier” was born of the unruly early settlers in Indiana. Early Indianans were known to engage in vicious bar brawls where gouging, scratching and even sometimes the biting off a nose or an ear would occur. So common were these incidents that when a settler entering a tavern the next morning saw an ear on the floor, he would nudge it casually with his shoe and ask “Who’s ear?”
Take your pick. I personally like the “Who’s Ear” story the best, mostly because it is just crazy enough to be true. And the lovely people of Indiana (I have a brother in law that lives there) will probably say that it is total balderdash!
Now I have to say, when searching for foods from Indiana, the pickings were pretty slim. So slim in fact, that I had the choice to make either one savory dish or one dessert. Since I didn’t want to make a dessert, I am presenting to you the (apparently) famous Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwich.
This sandwich is a cousin of the German Wiener Schnitzel. History has it that it originated in Huntington IN at a restaurant called Nick’s Kitchen. Trivia note… Huntington is the home of Dan Quayle… former VP and Iran-Contra dude. Anyway, there seems to be some rivalry between Indiana and Iowa about who makes it better, who created it…blah blah blah. I am going to put it out there that I think Indiana has this one.
The making of this sandwich is really very easy. You pound out a slice of tenderloin, marinade it in buttermilk and spice mixture, bread it and fry it. Serve it up on a bun with mayo, mustard, pickle, lettuce, tomato and onion. Done.
Verdict… very tasty, although I still have not mastered the breading/frying thing, so the coating separated from the meat when trying to eat the sandwich. For all the spice in the buttermilk marinade I would have thought it would be spicier and more flavorful, but it was very mild. Josh said it would be better with chicken. I give this an A-.
And before I go I am going to add an observation. When it comes to recipes of the US States, I am finding a very disturbing trend of frying, breading, buttering… caloring (yeah, I know that is not a word)! I am hoping that our remaining states will offer up some more healthy fare. But I am committed to finishing our journey wherever it takes us. I just hope I don’t gain 10 pounds getting to Hawaii!
See you next week in Mississippi. (Why do I think this one will be fattening)
Recipe for Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwich (from thespicekitrecipes.com)
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups milk mixed with 2 Tbsps. lemon juice or vinegar)
1 tsp. each black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, salt
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. cayenne
2 sleeves saltine crackers
1 cup all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp. salt
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
8 hamburger buns
After you trim the fat and silver skin off the tenderloin you can either 1) cut the the loin in 3 inch slices, then butterfly each slice and pound to a ¼ inch thickness or 2) butterfly the whole tenderloin down the center lengthwise and pound to a ¼ inch thickness then cut into desired pieces. Be sure you use the flat side of a mallet and piece of plastic wrap on top of the loin when pounding the meat out.
In a large, shallow bowl or pan whisk together the milk, eggs, spices, salt and sugar together.
Add the tenderloin to the milk mixture making sure the pork is completely covered and marinate 4 hours.
Blend crackers in a food processor to make coarse crumbs then transfer to a shallow dish.
Put flour mixed with salt in a shallow dish.
Heat 1 inch of oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
Take each piece of pork and dredge both sides in the flour, then dip back into the milk mixture, and then coat each side in the cracker crumbs.
Add to the hot oil and fry in batches until browned and crispy, about 3-5 minutes per side.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Build your sandwich and eat!