Apr 13, 2014

Loins

What food do you munch on that's common in your area, but not in other parts of the country?

Tenderloins are popular in Iowa, where pigs outnumber humans 5-to-1.  Pound a pork loin flat, bread it with spiced cornmeal and fry till tender.  Top with red onion and mustard, crown with toasted buns and chow down.

My folks were in town this weekend for Pigtails' first track meet.  Dad's bucket list includes hitting all the shops that are on Iowa Pork Producers top 5 'loin list.  So yesterday we drove an hour north to Paton, IA to check out 209 Main's pork. They're #2 on the list and population 236, I cracked up at their city office.



We were expecting the lunch joint to be a tired pub with wood paneled walls.  But the opposite was true, it was a bright new diner with 20 ft. ceilings and hulking steel beams buttressing up top.




Small town folks are the nicest.  The waitress explained the owner founded a company that manufactures farm implements like corn and soybean planters.  John Deere bought his patents and company, and now he's wealthy.  He's reinvesting his fortune into the tiny town, hence 209 Main was born.  This also explains the million dollar mansion squatting on the corner amongst the rest of the town's $40,000 homes.

The tenderloins didn't disappoint:  salted crunch on the outside, steamy white meat inside.






Pigtails ordered only salad bar.  No comment.

I know you readers come from California, Georgia, New York and South Africa.  Are tenderloins served where you live? What sorts of goodies do you devour that aren't common in other places?

-Beard

51 comments:

  1. Pierogies are my favorite food, a Pittsburgh/Polish thing. During Lent, Catholic churches sell homemade ones at their Friday fish fries. You can't beat it.

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    1. Polish dumplings, never tried but I'll add it to my list, thanks!

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    2. Melissa C.4/14/2014

      We've got awesome pierogies in western Mass (thank you Chicopee!) too. Great homemade style, much better than the freezer aisle options (and much easier than making my own...again). Love it!

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    3. LOVE Pierogies! When we lived in Upstate NY we always looked forward to Lent and getting Pierogies made at the local Polish Catholic Church.

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  2. Tri-tip and rib-eye--both beef cuts are very common out west; my Chicago kids say it's not found out there. And speaking of Chicago, has anyone seen Malort anywhere but there? (It's awful, in my opinion.)

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    1. Ribeye steak's a staple around here, sometimes extra fatty if the cook doesn't trim it out right. I've seen tip steak at the grocery, not sure if I've tried it. Now you've got me craving grilled meat, might have to pull out the Weber and take care of that tomorrow!

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  3. Back home in Australia we used to eat a lot of lamb. I sure do miss a great rack of lamb! You can get lamb here (haven't looked for racks though) but it is crazy expensive.

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    1. The only time I've eaten lamb is at India Star. Sometimes they swap their chicken curry with goat or lamb on Saturday buffet. I didn't realize lamb is Australia's national meat, poor little baby sheep!

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    2. While you're feeling sad about the baby sheep, I guess I should tell you that we also eat our native icons, the kangaroo and emu. Not as commonly, but you can buy it in the supermarket and at restaurants. We also have Kanga Banga's (kangaroo sausages). You can also partake in crocodile and camel steaks. I bet you would happily sit down to a lamb roast now, huh?

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  4. Here on the west coast I've been seeing lots of sushi available the past 7 or 8 years (the real stuff, not just California rolls with fake crab). Is that everywhere or are we weird?

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    1. Andrea4/14/2014

      I think that it becoming popular everywhere. I live in a small town in Maine and even we have a great Japanese restaurant that serves real deal delicious sushi.

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    2. Yepper, sushi is popular all over the place. Check the B&P FB page for a recent pic of what I eat here in Des Moines. The joint I hit up is run by three young Japanese dudes that used to serve sushi in Tokyo. Sashimi, nigiri, rice rolls, I love them all.

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  5. I think every household here in Ohio has a recipe for "the best" homemade Buckeye candy. Peanut butter and chocolate goodness, it doesn't matter what recipe you have, you really can't go wrong with that combination!

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    1. Making me hungry, those look good. Same idea as the PB no-bake cookies that we make here, a different shape though.

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    2. Oh we love no-bakes here too! =) Anything with PB and chocolate is a winner in my book!

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  6. Upstate NY - nope - can't say I've ever seen them here - blogs in the area say our little hotdogs w. meat sauce, utica greens, and 'garbage plates' are unique to this area. - And it may not be NY by those peoples standards, but our pizza can't be found in other places - (we have a historically large Italian immigrant population - so we've got red sauce, bakeries and bread galore). I do want to try the pork sandwich - sounds great

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    1. That's one sassy hot dog.

      There are places that sell Chicago and NY-style pizza around here, but ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.

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  7. My favorites in GA -
    Fried chicken, mashed potatoes & brown gravy. No one beats my Grandma's & Mom's recipes, though.
    Pulled pork - sauce choice is controversial.
    Banana pudding.
    Biscuits.
    Sweet tea.

    Also casseroles, but for me thumbs-up/thumbs-down depends on which casserole you're talking about... green bean casserole is usually a staple at family reunions; chicken casserole is another. Pineapple casserole is one I just tried (& liked) a couple of years ago.

    There are obviously more healthful traditions and sorry for perpetuating stereotypes but as a native Southerner who has also lived in the Northeast, those are the things that say "home" to me. Moderation is key anyway.

    I'm not sure I've seen pork tenderloins on many menus here but I haven't looked for them. After your post, I think I will keep my eyes open for them.

    Always enjoy reading your blog!

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    1. Casseroles are popular at church potlucks around here. Down south, ya'll put cream-of-chicken or mushroom soup in nearly every type of casserole like they do here?

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    2. Ha, it is indeed typical to put cream-of-something soup in many casseroles. I think most of the recipes I've seen use cream-of-mushroom. I have one recipe that might actually call for both.

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  8. Since is horse racing season here in Kentucky a lot of the traditional favorites are showing at local restaurants and will be on the menu for upcoming Derby parties -- these include burgoo (meat & veg stew), hot browns (a decadent and artery clogging combo of turkey, ham, bacon and béchamel sauce) and Derby pie (chocolate chip & pecan pie). Although mint juleps the stereotypical drink, I don't really know anyone that drinks them! Also, everyone I know has the self-proclaimed best recipe for pimento cheese and beer cheese and usually one or both will show up at any casual get together all year-round.

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    1. I knew about the mint juleps thing for the Kentucky Derby, but didn't realize that's mostly a stereotype that doesn't play out. Love beer cheese soup, especially when you have a load of fresh break to break off chunks and dunk it in the cheese.

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  9. In Nashville we have hot chicken. Its an incredibly spicy fried chicken. So delicious and I don't even like spicy food. I also love some South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce.

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  10. Anonymous4/14/2014

    We (upstate NY) do a pulled pork from tenderloin often. I myself have had MANY a garbage plate (must be from the same place as Betty, above). Google Nick Tahoe's. Also unique to Rochester - chocolate almond custard (abbott's) and zweigle's white hots.
    I live in Bellingham (washington state) now. Around here: lots and lots of seafood. I personally prefer garbage plates, white hots and chocolate almond custard.
    Sarah

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    1. Help me understand garbage plate, I Googled it and got back platters of puke topped with ketchup. Please tell me it's not like the perky noodle bake in that other post.

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    2. Anonymous4/14/2014

      Two kinds of meat: (hamburger, cheeseburger, white or red hots, and others but those are the most popular) and two sides: french fries, home fries, mac salad, baked beans. I always got 2 cheeseburgers, fries (sometimes home fries) and mac salad. It comes with italian bread and butter on the side. They just heap it all willy nilly on the plate. And then you pile it with onions and mustard/ketchup, hot sauce, etc. It's spectacularly awful for you. Huge portions. Totally does look like pule piles with ketchup. But it's delicious. And I must correct my typo above for anyone else googling: Nick Tahou's.

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    3. Got it, sounds no less healthy than the fried butter on a stick they serve here at the Iowa State Fair.

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  11. I'm originally from the west coast but now live in Southeast Texas. Country Fried Steaks are everywhere, also lots of fried food period. Beans and Rice are a staple meal here, which is something I didn't grow up with. It's interesting.

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    1. I lived in Sicily and MISS the pistachio pasta so much.

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  12. Anonymous4/14/2014

    Not sure that I devour them but in Southern California we enjoy fish tacos (originally from Baja California, Mexico) and breakfast burritos filled with eggs, cheese, potatoes, a meat (like bacon, ham, or sausage).

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    1. Oh yes, fish tacos are popular around here on meatless Fridays during Lent. We do breakfast burritos for dinner sometimes, filling and always hits the spot.

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  13. Meredith4/14/2014

    I'm with Anonymous... in San Diego, everyone I know regularly throws back fish tacos and other hole-in-the-wall taco shop fare. My personal favorite is the California burrito, which is stuffed with meat, cheese, salsa and French fries. Mmm...

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    1. I make fish tacos in the summer on the grill. A little seasoned whitefish, flour tortilla, avocado, shredded cabbage with a shake of hot sauce. Wish summer would hurry and get here so we can grill. We had spring on Friday (70 degrees), summer on Saturday (88) and winter today (30).

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  14. I don't care about the pork tenderloin...I want to know how Pigtails' first track meet went? What events? Photos? Oh, and fish tacos at Rubios in San Diego, I miss them!

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    1. What the.

      http://www.beardandpigtails.com/2014/04/first-1500.html

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  15. Walking tacos, does that ring a bell where you live? Crumble up a personal sized bag of Doritos, cut off the top and add in taco meat, cheddar, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. Often served up at baseball games and school picnics.

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    1. yes - concession stand material

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  16. Anonymous4/15/2014

    Cheesesteaks! I hail from Philadelphia! Don't ever buy a cheesesteak from a national chain. I don't know who thinks random pieces of meat and cheese on a roll equals an authentic steak. Come to town, go to any local deli and order up a steak wit' or wit'ot (with or without fried onions) and your choice of cheese. All on a deliciously chewy roll.

    We've got the disgustingly exquisite Scrapple, which is literally the scraps from the cutting room table pressed into a bread pan with some extra lard, then it gets fried (in more lard if possible) in half- inch-ish slices. People claim it's more popular then Bacon, but I'd be willing to settle for a tie on that one.

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  17. Having lived in 3 states the local dishes we always get when we go back "home" are:
    NW Indiana/Chicagoland: Italian Beef sandwiches, deep dish pizza
    Upstate NY: Buffalo Chicken Wings, Spiedies (Binghamton/Endicott area) (look up Lupo's Spiedies)
    Rochester, MN .... nothing unique for us ... still looking after 20 years here!

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  18. Must try these loins! My husband enjoys a sautéed pork chop so I think he'd be game! North of Boston we enjoy "tips" - marinated sirloin tips - grilled. Also high on our local favorites lists are Cape Cod and Maine oysters served icy cold and RAW! Yum! Cheers!

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  19. I think a California immigrant to Texas mentioned it above, but we natives call it "Chicken Fried Steak" (not Country Fried Steak -- maybe that's what it's called elsewhere). Years ago my dad was in Fort Wayne, Indiana on a job for his company. He went into a diner and asked if they had chicken fried steak. The waitress looked at him like he had lobsters coming out of his ears. Here's a link to one recipe for it (and we'll forget that it's the Pioneer Woman, who lives in Oklahoma): http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/02/chicken-fried-steak/

    I'd go find my recipe for it, but it's late and I'm lazy. Mine uses Tony Chachere's seasoning to give the breading a little kick. Yum.

    A really good chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, creamy pan gravy, bacon seasoned green beans and a glass of sweet tea. That is a mighty fine good meal. Only made better if you finish it up with a slice of pecan pie or Texas sheath cake (http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-sheath-cake-42908).

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  20. In the Cincinnati, OH we're big fans of goetta (a mixture of ground pork, pin-head oats and spices) pan-fried and served as a breakfast meat. Also delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich. Another popular thing is Cincinnati-style chili, with several neighborhood chili parlors putting their own twist on the classic. Skyline Chili and Goldstar Chili are popular, multi-store chains serving up the deliciousness in "ways" or "coneys". A 3-way is chili over noodles, topped with mounds of shredded cheddar. A 4-way adds onions or beans and a 5-way adds both. Coneys are chili in a hot dog bun, add or hold cheese, mustard and onions. To each his own, but Skyline is my preference.

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  21. I grew up in NC, home to the best barbecue in the world (I prefer shoulder but have done whole pig). Cooked for anything less than all night and you are cooking too fast! Sauce is important! I have my own secret recipe that was learned at the side of an old pit master in Shelby, NC. Don't be fooled by places that advertise "pulled pork" sandwiches because most of the authentic places don't say "pork" - it is understood.

    In the UK, there were several dishes that I loved - meat pies, bangers & mash, mushy peas, Yorkshire puddings, mutton, and British-style Indian food.

    In DC, the local specialty is the half-smoke. It is a type of sausage that is generally served like a hotdog. They are pretty good and several steps above a standard wiener at a ball game.

    Cheers!

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    1. Forgot one thing that was a real local specialty (but that I hated) - livermush! Fried and on a fresh biscuit, some love it, but it is not for me!

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  22. I grew up in Los Angeles, and one of the best things around here is a LA hotdog. Not something you'd find at Pinks (famous hotdog place on Melrose) but basically a hotdog wrapped in bacon, grilled, then put in a hotdog bun and topped with grilled onions, bell peppers, and sometimes ketchup and mustard. I discovered on a recent trip to San Diego Carne Asada fries (Marinated flap meat grilled and sliced into small strips of meat on top of French fries, then topped with fresh salsa and fresh guacamole)

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    1. That bacon dog reminds me of this SNL short...taco stuffed in a pizza, wrapped in a waffle, deep fried:

      http://www.snotr.com/video/3069/Taco_Town

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  23. Tom Bruner4/21/2014

    I am originally from Des Moines and now live in the Northern Virginia/DC area. There is NO food indigenous to this God-awful place. Someone above mentioned Hot Links in DC - they are very good but available only at the venerable Ben's Chili Bowl. Here in NOVA, there are very few truly local restaurants, let alone a regional specialty.

    Tenderloins are really only available in Iowa, Indiana, a few in Illinois and a smattering in Ohio. Every year I go to DSM to visit my Mother and have to have at least 2 tenderloins while I am there. Also eat at Chuck's, Gino's, Christopher's, Felix & Oscar's, Scornovocco's Pizza, Tasty Taco's, Waveland cafe. I always take home Graziano's Italian sausage (the best of anywhere I have lived), their capocollo, A&E cottage cheese (you don't know what you've got until it's gone) and A&E Chocolate milk.

    We hope to move back there someday!

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    1. Oh man, all those native places you mention are delicious. People outside this state sometimes think we are backwards and missing out. They are dead wrong.

      That reminds me, I need to head to Graziano's this week and reload on spicy Italian sausage. Here's a set I did on that gem: http://www.beardandpigtails.com/2012/04/graziano-grinder.html

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    2. Tom Bruner4/22/2014

      That reminds me to go to Jenny's Original Grinders on Easton Blvd. this August when I am will be there with my wife. I am sure you are too young to remember the old Onion Ring Drive In at Merle Hay and Hickman, but Jenny's father was the owner of that and they served the best Grinder in town. I was glad to see that she carried on the tradition with her own place.

      BTW, my wife is from here in Northern Virginia and fell in love with Des Moines the first time I took her there many years ago. She wants to move there as badly as I do. A MUCH different way of life there. People are actually nice. Do NOT move away from there - it is not worth the stress, let alone lousy food everywhere else I have ever lived.

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    3. Sounds like there's a flock of a-holes in the DC area there. Sorry about that. Can't beat Iowa nice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=qLZZ6JD0g9Y

      Jenny's Grinders, I've seen the stand at the Iowa State Fair selling huge piles of meat. Didn't realize she has a standalone kiosk on Easton. Now I know where I'll stuff my pie hole this weekend.

      Merle Hay and Hickman is near where I live, there's George the Chili King there on the corner that's served grease for 50+ years. Is that the onion ring place you speak of:
      http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/62/670734/restaurant/Merle-Hay/George-the-Chili-King-Des-Moines

      Glad your wife enjoyed Des Moines, a lot of people that visit for the first time are surprised in a good way. Hope you can migrate back home, godspeed!

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    4. Tom Bruner4/24/2014

      Even people from other central states comment on how polite and bright Iowans are. I am very proud to be from there. Alleged 'people' from out here make fun of Iowa but it almost always turns out they have never been there. Morons.

      George's onion rings are decent but the last tenderloin I had there was not very good. I think more of Smitty's, Maxie's, Latin King, Christopher's and many other great places to eat there. Onion rings are rare finds here, or if you find them they are battered, not breaded (think Burger King - yeccchhh). Millie's ORings were the best - god rest their soul.

      Their is a wonderful blog called Des Loines at http://des-loines.blogspot.com/. Great guide to Iowa tenderloins. Smitty's is my favorite but had Jethro's and it also was great. Iowa Pork Association has great 'loins at the Fair every year and I will be in line for one this year.

      You live not far from where I grew up in Windsor Heights, south of University. LOTS of great memories there.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!