Iowa Tenderloin, Florida-Style

Arugula, Paleo, Pan fry, pork

“Pork tenderloin sandwich” by Glane23 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I recently visited my husband’s family in the Midwest for our niece’s graduation. While in his hometown we had several traditional meals that were anything but Paleo. One of these famous heartland favorites is the “tenderloin.”

This is basically a breaded and fried pork chop sandwich. No actual tenderloin meat is  used (as far as I can tell) and usually people leave off the word “sandwich” when they order the “tenderloin.” From what I hear, Indiana and Iowa both think they make the best tenderloin.

But enough semantics. This tasty pork sandwich got me thinking about how to make it as Paleo as possible while respecting the dish’s tradition. First things first – get rid of IMG_2052that bun. Secondly, let’s pan fry instead of deep fry. Thirdly, let’s figure out how to add some greens. Voila! A Florida girl’s answer to a Midwest favorite.

Pounding the pork chop to 1/4″ thickness is the key to this recipe. Ask the meat department to “tenderize” the pork chop or you can beat the pork chop with a mallet until it’s 1/4″ thick. The result is a crispy, tender pork chop that the whole family will want to eat.

This dish doesn’t fully adhere to Paleo, but it gets pretty close. Chicken breasts can be a substitute for those who don’t eat pork. The Midwest purists will be shocked at my addition of arugula and lemon, but I don’t care! The combination is elegantly delicious and reminiscent of my husband’s roots.


4 boneless pork chops, pounded or tenderized to 1/4” thickness IMG_2036

1/2 cup almond flour or regular all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter or ghee

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups arugula

4 lemon wedges

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper


Take the flour, egg mixture and breadcrumbs, place each in its own shallow bowl, and create a “bowl assembly line” to bread the pork chops. Gently dip each pounded pork chop in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip into the egg wash, then into the breadcrumbs, making sure the ingredients adhere well to the pork chop.

IMG_2035   IMG_2040

In a large pan, heat one tablespoon of butter or ghee and one tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Cook two pork chops at a time, for 4-6 minutes per side, allowing them to get brown and crispy.

Remove pork chops from pan and place them on a plate. Loosely cover with foil, and repeat the process with the remaining two pork chops.

When the second set of pork chops is ready, combine arugula, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a separate bowl.

Top each pork chop with a cup of arugula mixture and serve with a lemon wedge.

IMG_2046   IMG_2045   IMG_2051


One thought on “Iowa Tenderloin, Florida-Style

  1. Greetings from Iowa! We do love our tenderloins. Many restaurants here will give a choice of the breaded and fried style tenderloin or grilled, my parent’s favorite. The state is a large pork producer and an “Iowa Chop on a stick” at the state fair is very popular. Last week, with “fair food” in mind, I made tenderloins and “lemon shake-ups” to drink.
    In Germany, we have always been served wiener schnitzel (similar to a Midwestern style tenderloin without the bun) with a wedge of lemon. I love it with fresh squeezed lemon and stone ground mustard.
    BTW, thanks again for the graduation visit!
    Love, Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *