I’m a breaded tenderloin snob. I know its history (the schnitzel German immigrants brought to America), and I know the good from the bad. The bad generally means a frozen fritter, one dripping in grease, or just bad meat. I consider myself an aficionado of the sliced, beaten, breaded, and fried pork sandwich. This pork hubris led me to start my “Indy Tenderloin Tour” during the month of May to introduce out-of-state Indy 500 fans to this local delicacy, the likes of which can only be found in Indiana. And then I went to Iowa Speedway.
I was minding my own business. Oh, I noticed the pork chops and stopped to talk to the fine folks from the Tama County Pork Producers. These were just the type of grilled pork offerings you would expect from Iowa residents. They were quite tasty. But of course, they weren’t breaded tenderloins. And then I walked past The Machine Shed, a local restaurant that operated one of the concession stands. It was very hard not to notice The Machine Shed, since this was cooking directly in front of it.
Yep. That’s a whole hog roasting its way to succulent perfection. Again, wonderful pork presentation, but not a breaded tenderloin. But as I scanned the menu, it jumped out at me. There it was: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. But so far in Iowa, most pork products were naked. The pork loins, pork chops, and pork burgers might be seasoned, but they were not breaded. After a brief moment of discussion, I found that the tenderloins here were indeed breaded, so I ordered up one of the breaded babies. Here is what arrived:
I believe I insulted the workers in The Machine Shed when I asked if the tenderloin was a frozen fritter. These tenderloins are sliced from the loin by The Machine Shed in their cutting room, pounded by real human beings, and breaded/battered in their own recipe. I was also pleased to learn that the pork is locally sourced. Iowans care about their food.
All that’s nice, but what about the taste? Well, I included this sandwich in my “Indy Tenderloin Tour” didn’t I? Doesn’t that tell you something? My first bite told me that these Hawkeyes knew what they were doing. The meat was thick and cooked to perfection. Tenderloin fans know that you hide bad meat by pounding it thin and breading it heavily. This was a thick piece of meat with nary a bit of gristle. The coating was more of a batter than a breading and was crispy, bordering on crunchy. My personal preference is for breading instead of batter, but that does not change the fact that this was a great tenderloin. If you are in Iowa and are lusting after a breaded tenderloin, The Machine Shed is ready for you.
I have to give The Machine Shed a checkered flag. My hat is off to my first out-of-Indy stop on the “Indy Tenderloin Tour.”
Checkered Flag: It’s a winner. Picture should be on the Pork-Warner Trophy.
Green Flag: It’s a go. Solid competitor with a chance to be a winner.
Yellow Flag: Warning. Something is not copacetic.
Black Flag: Get this pig off the track.