How to Make Regional Sandwiches: Crispy Iowa Skinny and St. Paul Sandwich


Today on “Cook’s Country,” we’re making the Midwest’s favorite sandwiches. First up, I’m making an Iowa skinny. Adam reviews 12-inch non-stick skillets. Toni’s got the backstory of the Boogaloo Wonderland sandwich. Then Christie shows us how to make one at home.

And finally, Brian makes a St. Paul sandwich. That’s all right here on “Cook’s Country.”In the Southwest, they love their chili cook-offs, and here in New England, we’re a bit competitive over clam chowder.

But in Iowa, they love their fried pork tenderloin sandwiches.

They even nicknames for them. Some call them elephant ears because they’re as big as a plate. Others call them Iowa skinnies. I like to call them dinner. And I’m gonna show you how to make one today.

This is a one-pound pork tenderloin. I wanna get rid of the silver skin and any fat. The best way to get rid of silver skin, and you can see it, it kind looks like, well, it looks silvery, the little skin there. Just gonna take a boning knife, and you wanna use a flexible boning knife for this so it doesn’t take away a lot of the meat.

And you just insert the tip of the knife shallowly under the silver skin.

So you go through to the other side, and then just go back. Slice it through, then hold the tenderloin this way, and pull it as you slice it off the meat. All right, we don’t need to go too crazy there. Little bits of fat is fine. So now we wanna cut these into four equal-ish pieces.

We’re gonna make four sandwiches today. So this end is a bit broader and this end is tapered, so I’m going to leave this in a little bit longer. You can totally eyeball it here, I won’t tell. I’m going to rotate this cut-side up. I’m gonna cover this with some plastic just to protect it.

And now you can use a meat pounder for this.

I actually find a rolling pin is easier to pound these things out with. And we’re gonna pound this out until it’s about a quarter-inch thick. You don’t wanna go too much thinner than that, you’re gonna get holes in the center. And now, all we need to do is season them with a little bit of salt and pepper.

We’re seasoning the meat directly. That way it flavors the meat directly. Later on, these are going to get breaded, and we’ll add a little bit of seasoning there too.

But for now, it’s a very good idea to season the meat, both sides. All right, so I’m gonna finish seasoning these.

I’ll wash my hands, clean up a little bit. And then we’ll start breading and frying. Now pork tender loin sandwiches are usually breaded with breadcrumbs. And to get those to really stick, you need to use a bound breading, which starts with flour. So this is a half a cup of all purpose flour, already in the pan.

Now, after it gets dredged in flour, we need to dip it into something wet. I’ve got two eggs here. And remember I said that we were going to season the coating as well. Well, we are, but not with salt and pepper directly. We’re using mayonnaise.

This is a quarter cup of mayonnaise. And it’s kind of a wonder ingredient. It’s got eggs, and oil, seasoning, salt, pepper, maybe sugar depending on the brand you use. So I’m just going to whisk this together. All right, now we need some breadcrumbs, so let’s make our own.

And we’re using three slices of hearty white sandwich bread. I’ve gone ahead and torn these into smaller pieces. Put it in the food processor. Now recipes made with only bread crumbs, we found them to be a little bit too sweet. So we wanted to add something that was salty and would take away from some of that sweetness.

So we’re using Saltine crackers in addition to bread. This is 16 Saltine crackers. Going to add some really good, crisp texture. And of course, some seasoning. So now I’m just going to pulse this until the crumbs are pretty fine.

All right, so there we go. And now, I’ll go ahead and put this right into our dish. So let’s get back to the pork. Now you can see that it’s glistening a little bit, and that’s because the salt has pulled out a little bit of the moisture from the pork. That’s great, we’re gonna use that to get the flour to stick to the pork.

So we’ll just dredge it. You wanna get rid of any excess flour. And now, goes right into our mayonnaise and egg coating. It’s nice and thick. Make sure it’s coated, shake off the excess.

And then into the bread crumbs. I can now spin some of these breadcrumbs on top. And I’m going to press the crumbs onto the cutlets. Shake it off, and then put these on a wire rack that I’ve set over a rimmed baking sheet. So I’m gonna continue with the remaining pieces.

And then these need to sit for at least five minutes.

You can actually do this up to an hour in advance and store them in the fridge. And during that time, that moisture from the pork is going to come out, and create kind of a glue to help those breadcrumbs stick. So I’ll finish this up, wait five minutes, and then it’s fry time. So the cutlets have waited five minutes.

That breadcrumb coating is gonna stick nicely. Now I’ve gone ahead and heated up a half a cup of vegetable oil in my large 12-inch non-stick skillet here. We’re only going to cook these two at a time, because that’s all that’s going to fit into the pan. Now the oil is just shimmering. I’ve heated it over medium heat.

So, it’s time to add two cutlets. Now, when you’re laying food into hot oil, you always wanna put it away from you. So these are going to cook for two minutes on each side. All right, so it’s been about two minutes. I’m gonna take a peek on the bottom here.

Oh, nice golden brown. I’m using tongs and a little spatula here, so that I don’t get a lot of splatter. That is a beautiful golden brown. So we’re gonna let that go for another two minutes on the second side. All right, let’s take a look at that second side.

Gorgeous color there. All right, these are ready to come out of the pan. I’m gonna put ’em on a paper towel-lined platter here.

And look at that breading. That is gorgeous.

We do have some spent oil in here, so I’m gonna go ahead and pour the oil right in here. Take some paper towels and my tongs, and wipe out the skillet. So I’ve got a half cup more of the vegetable oil, and again I’m gonna heat it over medium heat until it’s shimmering. And it shouldn’t take that long, because the pan is really hot at this point. All right, two minutes a side, just like the first batch.

Well, I finished that second batch of pork cutlets. If you wanna make these a little ahead of time, you could keep them warm in a 200-degree oven. But I think it’s time to make a sandwich out of this. Lettuce is traditional for an Iowa skinny, and iceberg is traditional for an Iowa skinny. So I just need to core the lettuce.

And this is something that my mom used to let my sister and I do when we were kids. Whoever got to core the iceberg, that was a big highlight.

You just take it and you slam it, core-side down, on your countertop or your board. And then it comes right out. So now, I just need to get rid of anything that’s a little bit shaggy on the outside.

And now I just need a quarter for our sandwiches. We’re not gonna go too crazy with the vegetables here. And then just gonna take my knife and shred it to nice, thin tendrils. We have all the food groups here. We have meat, we have starch, we have vegetable, and we have fruit.

That’s all you could ever want, right? So I’m gonna start off with another vegetable, potato buns. You wanna use a nice, soft, squishy roll here. All right, and this looks like a beautiful cutlet. I’m gonna shingle a little bit of tomato right there.

Some lettuce on top. And, promised you more mayonnaise, you get more mayonnaise. The Iowa skinny in all of its beautiful, fried pork tenderloin goodness. I’m gonna cut into it so you can see what’s going on on the inside. Come on now, that’s a good-looking sandwich.

Well, there’s only one way to be sure. Hm, that breading is so light. It’s almost flaky, but it’s really well-seasoned too. And the pork is well seasoned. Incredibly tender too.

It is crunchy, it’s perfection. To make these great sandwiches at home, dredge pork cutlets into egg and mayo, cook with a mixture of bread crumbs and crushed Saltines. And use fresh oil between each batch.

So from “Cook’s Country,” blue ribbon-worthy pork tenderloin sandwiches, AKA: crispy Iowa skinny. Our old favorite 12-inch non-stick skillet recently got a redesigned handle.

So we decided to take a look at the whole category again. We have 10 different 12-inch non-stick skillets here. The price range was a low of $30 to a high of about $200. And we focused on skillets with that classic non-stick coating, called polytetrafluoroethylene. And you’ve probably seen the acronym PTFE.

A lot of coatings out there, but this is the gold standard. Now we did a wide range of cooking tests. But before and after the whole testing cycle, testers fried eggs in these pans with no fat whatsoever. And they fried them until the eggs began to stick, or until they reached 50 eggs that didn’t stick. Whichever came first.

And every single one of these pans passed that test.

They were all suitably non-stick. So because they were all slick, the performance was pretty much on par. It was really features that made the difference. Now, in terms of any skillet, we like to have a nice, broad cooking surface.

Most of these are about 9-10 inches, which was plenty of room to stir fry, say beef with broccoli, or pan-fry sole filets, both of which were among the tests. Testers didn’t like when the side walls of the pan were too shallow. These were about two inches, and they found that when they were stir-frying, food could tumble out a little too easily. Another important thing was the weight of the pans, which ranged from a low of 2.4 pounds to a high of about four pounds.

And testers gravitated towards the lower end of that scale just because the pans were easier to lift and maneuver. And last of course, there was that handle that got redesigned.

Testers liked handles that were gently curved and easy to hold onto. This one is our old favorite with its new handle. And that equals our new favorite 12-inch non-stick skillet.

This is the OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Pro 12-Inch Open Fry Pan. It’s got all the features the testers like. A nice, broad cooking surface, a good, light weight at 2.4 pounds, a very comfortable handle, sides that were tall enough, and it was $42.50.

What’s better than great performance at a bargain price? – The Boogaloo Wonderland sandwich is a specialty of Greg Beard at Chef Greg’s Chef Greg’s Soul-N-The Wall in Detroit, Michigan. It’s got sliced onions and ground beef cooked in a tangy tomato-based sauce, and served with melted cheese on a sub roll. It’s messy, it’s delicious. It’s what you need to make right now (chuckles).

Well, this sandwich has two components. Now, first is a ground beef and onion mixture. That’s what we’re gonna focus on. Now, I’m slicing one onion. So I’ll just slice these nice and thin.

I have a tablespoon of vegetable oil heating up in this 12-inch non-stick skillet.

I’m gonna let this go over medium-high heat until it’s just smoking. The oil looks nice and hot, so I’ll transfer my onions. I’m also adding one and a quarter pounds of 85% lean ground beef, a teaspoon of pepper, and three quarters of a teaspoon of table salt. I just wanna use my spoon to break up the ground beef into small pieces.

The onions will start to soften, and release all their moisture into the skillet.

That will help steam the beef. We’ll know that this is done when all the moisture that the onions release has evaporated, and the beef starts to sizzle. And that’ll take about 10 minutes. – Greg Beard is a man who knows how to put his own spin on a tradition.

He grew up working alongside his father, a self-made businessman who owned both a car shop and a small restaurant in Detroit. And although he enjoyed working on cars, he was always drawn to the kitchen. He says he traded one grease for another. In 2006, when a popular local barbecue joint closed, Greg got the opportunity to open his own restaurant. He called it Chef Greg’s Soul-N-The Wall.

Soon after, customers started showing up asking for the Boogaloo sandwich, a favorite on the previous restaurant’s menu.

So he set to work developing his own version. He named his creation the Boogaloo Wonderland sandwich, in honor of his friend, Grammy award-winning songwriter and Detroit-native, Allee Willis, who wrote the song “Boogie Wonderland” for Earth, Wind & Fire in 1979.- While the beef and onions cook, we can get started on the sauce. Now, this sauce is really the key to the Boogaloo Wonderland sandwich.

It’s a really zippy tomato-based sauce that starts with a really zippy ingredient. And that is one cup of ketchup. Now to that ketchup, I’m also adding three tablespoons of cider vinegar, for a nice bright punch, two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, two tablespoons of packed brown sugar. And then we have a few dry ingredients that are really gonna contribute to that depth, and warmth, and complexity. Three quarters of a teaspoon of dry mustard, three quarters of a teaspoon of chili powder, three quarters of a teaspoon of granulated garlic, three quarters teaspoon of dried thyme, and a quarter teaspoon of pepper.

Bring this to a boil over medium-high heat. The sauce has come up to a boil. Now we wanna let this cook for about three minutes until it gets slightly thickened. But you wanna whisk this constantly for those three minutes. My sauce looks like it has just slightly thickened.

And you wanna keep whisking it because there’s a lot of sugar in there, and you don’t want it to scorch on the bottom of the saucepan. So I’ll turn off the heat, and remove it from the heat too. I’ll transfer one cup of the sauce to a liquid measuring cup, and save the rest for assembly. Now take a look at this beef. So I told you that we wanted to cook this until all the liquid evaporated.

And here, I know that this is ready because I can hear the beef starting to sizzle. It doesn’t happen until all the water’s gone. So I’ll add the cup of sauce to the beef mixture. So I’ll just stir in the sauce, get it all combined.

And this should come up to a boil fairly quickly, ’cause this is nice and hot.

So I’m just letting this come up to a boil. Now I’ll reduce the heat to medium, and let this cook just until it thickens slightly. Just for about a minute. It’s been about a minute and this looks just right. It’s time to build the sandwiches.

I have four six-inch Italian sub rolls. Now I’ve opened them up, but I’ve left them connected at the hinge. That’s going to make them much easier to load. And it’s definitely going to make them slightly less messy to eat. So I’ll just divide this between the rolls.

There is plenty to go around. Now for the cheese. I’m placing two slices of American cheese. It’s creamy, it’s milky, it’s the best melter out there.

Putting two pieces of cheese on each sandwich.

The oven is all set. The rack is in the middle position, heated to 350 degrees. These are just going to stay in the oven for five minutes. I just wanna get melty cheese, the rolls heated all the way through so that this is just, mm, perfect. So five minutes in the oven.

Ho-ho, oh-oh-oh. We got some melty cheese going on right now. Look at these sandwiches. So I have some sauce left. Remember we put a cup of the sauce into the ground meat, but we also have some sauce left over.

So I will divide this among the sandwiches now. This is very exciting. I don’t recommend eating this with white clothes on (chuckles). I’ll tell you that right now (chuckles). Okay.

(bread crunching) Hm, that sauce is so tangy, and deep, and complex. There’s all this textural complexity as well as crazy flavor going on. Mm, the onions and the cheese. That’s a sandwich. I feel like a little kid.

The sauteed onions and tangy, saucy beef topped with the blanket of melted cheese make this sandwich unique. From “Cook’s Country,” the Boogaloo Wonderland sandwich. Egg foo young is a classic Chinese-American restaurant dish. And back in the 1980s, one creative Chinese restaurant owner in St.

Louis decided to turn egg foo young into a sandwich.

He called this creation the St. Paul sandwich, after St. Paul, Minnesota. A place he’d obviously lived and loved very much before moving to St. Louis.

Now I had this sandwich at Fortune Express in St. Louis, where I met with owners, Anthony and Rudy Lieu. Anthony makes his own secret spice blend that he wouldn’t tell us anything about.

Our version today is based on that sandwich. We’re gonna start with our egg foo young base.

So in this bowl, I have four eggs. And to that, I’m going to add one half teaspoon of salt, one half teaspoon of white pepper, and one half teaspoon of granulated garlic. So we’ve got the spices in with our eggs. We’re gonna just beat those up to combine. Okay, and to the eggs, we’re gonna add one cup of chopped onion.

Next, we’re going to add one cup of mung bean sprouts.

I’ve gone ahead and rinsed these off ahead of time. And we’re just gonna give ’em a coarse chop. And then we’ll add those right to the eggs. You know, usually it’s some variation of pork or chicken that goes into egg foo young.

We’re gonna add five ounces of ham steak that I’m gonna dice into half-inch pieces.

Okay, and we can add that ham steak right to our egg mixture. Make sure everything’s combined. At the restaurant, what they typically do with egg foo young is they pour the egg portion into a relatively deep ladle. They lower that ladle into an oil-filled wok, and they deep-fry that omelet into a nice, perfect circle.

And they cook this omelet for quite a bit of time, longer than you need to cook the eggs. But it changes the texture to make it something a little bit more meaty and hearty, and really gives it a nice flavor.

So rather than deep-fry our egg foo young, we’re gonna make it a little bit more home-cook friendly, and we’re gonna do a shallow fry. I’ve got a half cup of vegetable oil here, that’s heating up in the skillet over medium heat. Once that begins to smoke, we’re gonna add our egg foo young.

We’re gonna use a half-cup portion, and we’re gonna dollop four equal portions of egg foo young in four corners of the skillet here. And these portions of eggs will run together a little bit, but we’ll take care of that when we start to flip. And if you have any extra, you could just dollop evenly around the skillet. We’re gonna really give these eggs some nice browning. Gonna let ’em go for a good five minutes, with the lid on, until they get really, really nicely browned on bottom.

All right, it’s been a good five minutes, and you can see the egg is puffy. It’s really nicely brown around the edges.

And because some of that egg did run together, we wanna just use the end of our spatula here to separate those pieces, so we have our individual portions for the sandwiches. And then we’re just gonna flip those over. And as we flip these, it’s helpful to get a second spatula so you can lift and then gently lay those pieces of egg foo young down, without causing a big splatter.

So we’re gonna let that go for another three minutes on the second side, to get a similar amount of browning. Okay, it’s been another three minutes. See that our egg is nice and cooked, and puffy, and well browned. We’re going to transfer our egg foo young patties to a paper towel-lined sheet tray here. We just wanna wick away any of the excess grease that’s on them.

Okay, so it’s been just a minute. And our egg foo young is drained on our paper towels.

And so now we’re ready to start assembling our St. Paul sandwiches. We’re gonna use basic white bread.

There’s some fancier restaurants out there that try to use like Texas toast, and whatnot. But in the end, I found that the simple, inexpensive white bread is the best for this sandwich. So we’re gonna hit each side of this bread with a little bit of mayonnaise, about a half cup of shredded lettuce. Okay, next we could put an egg foo young patty on top of each bed of lettuce. Next, we’re gonna add a couple slices of tomato on top.

And then finally, not three, not five, but four pickles per sandwich. Now we could cap each one of these sandwiches. Give it a gentle pat down.

Here we go. Look how gorgeous this sandwich is.

This is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. All the flavors in that egg foo young patty, a little tartness of the pickles, the creaminess of the mayonnaise, and the crunch of the lettuce. That’s absolutely so good. So there you have it, a tribute to St. Paul, Minnesota by way of St.

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