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Sliding into summer with tasty sandwiches

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What is it about a sandwich that makes it so loved? Maybe it's the ease of preparation. The fact that there's almost no cleanup involved certainly doesn't hurt. And who doesn't appreciate the simplicity of eating out of hand?

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Yes, it seems most humans love a good sandwich.

On weekend trips to the lake from our home in St. Paul, my mom and dad would always be sure we'd get to their favorite small-town meat market along the way before it closed on Friday evenings. We'd each choose our favorite sausage, meats and cheeses, loading up with several white packages that would become filling for thick sandwiches when we got to the cabin.

I used to love to watch my dad design a hefty sandwich with cold cuts, cheeses, butter and sometimes pickles. The more meat and cheese choices he had, the happier he would be. Then he discovered the soft round loaves of King's Hawaiian Bread in the grocery store. He was so proud to show off this new sweet find in an orange plastic bag. He believed the bread kicked his sandwiches up a big notch.

If sandwiches were such a big deal for my dad, why not try them on a boyfriend? Before we married, I would sandwich crisp slices of bacon between toasted and buttered rye bread for my future husband to eat as we rode together to a summer French class at the University of Minnesota. He told me they were the best sandwiches he'd ever eaten. When I made him a peanut butter sandwich for the first time, he couldn't say a word. I thought it was probably because the sandwich was so indescribably delicious. But no, he wasn't used to such a huge amount of peanut butter in one sandwich - his tongue was trapped in the peanut butter and his mouth was stuck shut.

Pork Tenderloin Sliders are not your typical sandwiches. Pork tenderloin bathes in a marinade flavored with garlic, fresh herbs and onions before cooking on the outdoor grill. A tangy mustard sauce is brushed over the meat as it cooks. Once the juicy meat is sliced, it goes onto buns that have been slathered with garlic-and-herbs-flavored spreadable cheese, and layered with fresh greens, thin slices of red onion and Swiss cheese.

I call them sliders not because they are so greasy they slide down your throat without chewing. Quite the contrary. Lean pork tenderloin stays very moist with little fat. These sandwiches, built on small buns sometimes referred to as dollar-size buns, cocktail buns or three-quarter buns, remind me of the little hamburgers that some restaurants and bars refer to as sliders, similar to the ones some folks can get at White Castle.

Garlic and Herbs Pork Tenderloin Sliders will make all dads happy on Father's Day. And all humans who love those dads will be happy, too.

If Daddy's happy, everybody's happy.

Garlic and Herbs Pork Tenderloin Sliders

2 pounds pork tenderloin

1 cup thinly sliced onions

1/3 cup water

Juice and zest from 1 lime, about 3 tablespoons juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

1/4 cup olive oil, divided

3 fat cloves of garlic, 2 crushed and 1 minced

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 (6.5-ounce) tub garlic and herbs spreadable cheese

Swiss cheese

Sliced red onion

Fresh greens such as spinach, Bibb or leaf lettuce

Place pork tenderloins on a work surface. Using a small, sharp knife, such as a paring knife, remove the silver skin, which is the thin, shiny membrane that runs along the surface of the meat. Use a meat fork to poke holes all over the meat. Place pork tenderloins in a large zip-top bag and place in a shallow baking dish. Set aside.

Make the marinade by mixing 1 cup thinly sliced onions, water, lime zest and juice, basil, thyme, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 crushed cloves of garlic in a 4-cup glass measure. Carefully pour over the pork tenderloins in bag. Seal bag and store in refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight.

Make mustard sauce by combining mustard, soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 minced clove of garlic. Mix well and set aside.

Prepare grill. Remove tenderloins from marinade on place on hot grill. Cook pork tenderloins, brushing occasionally with mustard sauce, until meat registers 160 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove meat from grill. Place on cutting board and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice the pork into ¼-inch-thick slices.

Spread split buns generously with garlic and herbs spreadable cheese. Pile on slices of pork tenderloin, fresh greens, red onion and Swiss cheese. Makes 12 to 20 sliders, depending on how much meat is piled onto each bun.

Tips from the cook

--Fresh basil and thyme will impart the best flavor to the marinade. If you use dried herbs, use 1 teaspoon of each and give them a pinch as you sprinkle them into the marinade. The pinch releases some of the flavorful oils from the dried herbs.

--Garlic and herbs spreadable cheese is sometimes found near the cream cheese in many grocery stores. I use alouette light garlic & herbs spreadable cheese that I find in the deli cheese case.

--Roasted red peppers are also delicious layered into these sliders.

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