Hak’s Habanero Pineapple BBQ Sauce
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So I bought this myself, needing some BBQ sauce for Superbowl Sunday. Hak’s is fairly well-known, and having reviewed a bunch of sauces over the years, I am always looking for something different, and Habanero Pineapple seemed like just the thing!

So we’ve used it a few times on different types of meat and I’ve gotta say – it’s OK. Yup, that’s it – “OK”. Not a bad sauce, but nothing that got me all excited to write a review. My wife thought it had a weird after taste. The heat of the Habanero was there definitely, but honestly – neither of us could taste the pineapple. I love pineapple so I was hoping for that flavor to shine through more than it did. When all was said and done, this particular flavor of Hak’s tasted like a generic, hot BBQ sauce. Not bad, not awesome.

Seriously, Hak’s has a great reputation and this is the only flavor I have tried so now I am wanting to pick up another one to see if it fares any better. I guess after awhile, a lot of sauces start to taste the same and I begin to look for something special or unusual. I’ve done reviews on sauces from folks no one has ever heard of – that knocked my socks off. I bought this (it wasn’t sent free, for a review) for $8 which is high, to me. I wouldn’t spend that much again for this flavor…

Backwoods Mustard Review
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I found a jalapeno mustard a couple of years ago that I liked but it went out of stock and I haven’t been able to get it since. I was delighted when the folks at Backwoods Mustard offered to send me a bottle of theirs to review!

From their site: “Backwoods Mustard Company creates Michigan-made craft mustard utilizing family recipes with a focus on tradition, Michigan, and the Great Outdoors.

Launching commercially in June of 2013, Backwoods Mustard can now be found in over 125 retail stores, restaurants, and breweries. Our product is unique in that our recipes are old family hunt camp recipes dating back two generations. Because of that our products are geared toward Michigan, tradition, and the Great Outdoors.”

Backwoods deviates a bit from more traditional jalapeno mustards in that it has a bit of sweetness to it. Not sickeningly sweet – just a touch of sweetness. The jalapeno is just right, especially for a gringo like me. There’s a bit of heat there, but it’s not “knock your face off” hot. It’s perfect for rookies who like some heat, but not too much.

The mustard has a tang, and a great consistency. It’s sort of sticky, what you might expect with some sweetness. After a couple of years unable to find a jalapeno mustard that I liked, I think I’ve finally got the perfect condiment. Sweet, bright, tangy with enough heat to make you smack your lips, but not so much to make your eyes water. This stuff is just right.

You can learn more here: About Backwoods

You can find some AMAZING recipes here: Backwoods recipes

Backwoods Mustard has wholesale pricing available and is happy to provide several product options to retail stores, restaurant, breweries, etc. Contact them for more info.

Review – Coshell Charcoal
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If you didn’t read my interview with Shawn from Coshell Charcoal be sure to jump over there and have a look! I had to hit a couple of places but I finally found some at the local Albertson’s here in Queen Creek.

Coshell’s website claims that their charcoal burns “Cleaner, Hotter & Longer” and also that it is “petroleum free” and “better tasting”. I wanted to see if there was a difference between Coshell’s product and my usual product.

I used this charcoal to smoke my Christmas Day Turkey Breast. It was kind of a cold day with a brisk breeze that was coming and going. It took a bit to get the charcoal lit in my chimney starter but once I got the smoker rolling, I must say – I was impressed.

Normally on a day that cool, I would’ve struggled to keep the temp up. Not so that day. Also, for a 4-5 hour smoke, I usually would add some charcoal at least once. That day I didn’t need to. That tells me that for my review at least, their charcoal did burn “hotter and longer”. Also, there was really no odor whatsoever from the charcoal. I guess that satisfies “cleaner” too.

I must say that overall, I was happy with the Coshell’s charcoal! The price was about the same as competing brands of “regular” charcoal. It burned hotter, but not crazily so. There was no odor at all. Plus, there is the added satisfaction of using a more environmentally-friendly product. I think this might be my new “go to” charcoal.

ThermaPen Review
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I really need to thank Jesse from Thermoworks.com for sending along a Superfast Thermapen for me to try out.

According to the Thermoworks website:

Made by Hand in England, the Thermapen is faster and more accurate than any other cooking thermometer on the market. Competitors have tried to copy the Thermapen with mass-produced products made in China and have flooded the housewares market with slower, less-accurate knock-offs. However, when compared to true competing commercial thermocouple thermometers, the Thermapen is not only faster and more accurate, it’s also less expensive!

The Thermapen’s speed and accuracy will reveal more about food and cooking techniques than you ever imagined. You’ll learn that temperatures are always changing; a roast is never the same temperature throughout while cooking. If you want to know what’s really going on, get a Thermapen.

I can tell you that indeed, this thermometer is superfast – it’s almost instantaneous. I compared it side-by-side with another thermometer and there was no contest. The other thermometer took about 20 seconds to get a stabilized reading. The Thermapen took less than 3 seconds! This particular model runs about $90 and boasts the following characteristics:

3-second readings!
High accuracy to ±0.7°F (±0.4°C)
Water-resistant design
°F to °C reconfigurable
Auto on/off—no buttons!
1,500 hour battery life

The probe on this unit easily wipes clean.It folds up conveniently to protect the probe and comes in a bunch of cool colors. It seems to be tough (I inadvertently dropped it, with no apparent ill effects) and it shuts off automatically. It comes with an extensive (and very interesting!) User’s Manual and even a Certificate of Calibration. This is a professional instrument that won’t break the bank.

What an awesome product!

Cranberry Brined Turkey Breast
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So Christmas was fast approaching and I was wondering what I was going to make. Digging around in he freezer, I found a big ol turkey breast I had purchased when it went on sale. Like most of you, I keep an eye out for ribs, brisket, corned beef (for pastrami) and those giant turkey breasts. When they’re on sale, I snatch them up!

I decided I was going to make brined, smoked turkey breast for Christmas. I thawed the turkey a couple of days prior, then I made the brine using 1 cup of Kosher salt, 2 big bottles of cranberry juice, and some poultry seasoning. Using a 2-gallon freezer bag, I brined the turkey breast in the fridge for 24 hours. WARNING – It turns purple!

On Christmas Day I got the charcoal going (Coshell, by the way), and dried off the turkey breast. I rubbed it down with EVO and some chicken rub I had here and it was all set to go!

The rest was easy. I kept the smoker purring along at 225ish, and took the breast up to about 180 degrees or so. If memory serves correctly, it took about 4-5 hours.

The rest of the fixins for Christmas Dinner were more traditional but the turkey was a hit! Really juicy, great flavor!

Holiday Libations
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Not that I am advocating the consumption of strong liquor, but…. I know that during the Holidays many of you like to entertain. Here are some great punch recipes, associated with my military background. These recipes were all pulled from the message board Army.ca

Artillery Punch

1 qt strong black tea
1 qt rye whiskey
1 bottle red wine
1 pint Jamaican dark rum
1/2 pint brandy
1 jigger benedictine herbal liqueur
1 pint orange juice
1/2 pint lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a large punch bowl with a block of ice. If found too dry, sugar syrup may be added. Decorate with twists of lemon peel.

and another..

Served by the Officer’s Mess of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada:

ATHEL BROSE (loosely translated “nectar of the gods”

1 lb honey 2 1/2 c steel cut oats (NOT rolled)
2 c. water
1/2 gallon scotch

Mix all ingredients( but scotch), warm gently on low heat only until blended. Remove from heat, let cool and stir in scotch. Allow mixture to soak overnight w/ secure cover. Strain oat mixture from liquid and discard (or use for bread). Place liquid in glass jar and swirl (or roll) daily for 2-4 weeks.Several months if you can stand it ! Try not to open the container as you go to keep contaminants out.
The longer you wait the smoother it gets! Strain one last time and serve to all!

How about some “moose milk”? (This is my absolute favorite!)

Moose Milk

40oz Lambs Dark Rum
40oz Kahlua
40oz Vodka
4L Vanilla Ice Cream (the good creamy expensive kind)
4L eggnog

Mix all together, breaking up the ice cream a bit. Sprinkle nutmeg on top if you so desire. Stir occasionally as the ice cream starts to melt. Enjoy!

Bull’s Milk???

Both the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess and the Officers’ Mess of The Lincoln and Welland Regiment serve versions of “Bull’s Milk” or Moose Milk on New Year’s Day. There are at least two recipes:

Hot version. Heat slowly until warm:
• 80 oz Dark Rum
• 40 oz Brandy
• 40 oz Rye Whisky
• 12 qt Egg Nog

Cold version. May be kept cold by adding a block of ice after mixing:
• 120 oz White Rum
• 26 oz Brandy
• 26 oz Kahlua
• 3 or 4 gal Ice Cream (Chocolate, Vanilla or Neapolitan)
• 2 or 3 gal Milk or Egg Nog
• 1 qt Whipping Cream
• dash Vanilla Extract
• dash Nutmeg

Not so sure about this – not for the faint of heart:


What you need.

- 1 very big pail, or small garbage can ( clean ), or crock pot – and a ladle
- depending on the size of bucket used, buy about 4-5 frozen fruit punch mix – throw it in
- buy lemons, and limes, and strawberries etc and cut up and put in the bucket
- add about 1 bottle vodka, 1 bottle white rum, 2 bottles tequila ( basically whatever you want ) ( bottle generally 40 pounder)
- Stir up until the boat gas eats away at your ladle
- serve to a friend first and watch for negative effects. Usually let the “lab rat” sit for 5 minutes. If all checks out, go nuts. Enjoy the evening.

The fruit adds flavour, but also when all the booze is gone you can eat the alcoholic fruit, that way when your wife/girlfriend asks you if you actually ate anything healthy at the party ( or does that just happen to me? ) you can say “yes dear, i had fruit”

and finally…. “Windex”

“Windex” (later named “Prop Wash” by a rigged vote in the mess, damn those Air Force rotters … !)
- one part vodka
- one part white rum
- two parts Parfait D‘amour (a blue-coloured liquer by Marie Brizzard)
- dilute with Seven Up to suit your taste … while your taste buds are still functioning … (supposedly, 7Up is better than Sprite)
- makes a delightful, uniquely-coloured drink that will lift floor tiles (yup – I wouldn‘t make that one up) and will leave a mildly radioactive glow on your glassware (which we discovered at our wedding reception … )
- Theyd serve it to unsuspecting guests, and when they‘d ask about the blue colour we‘d explain that we‘d used Melita coffee filters and Windex … whereupon their faces would turn a shade of blue to match the drink!

Enjoy. I’m not responsible for you not drinking responsibly

Coshell Charcoal Briquettes
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I’d really like to thank Shawn from Coshell Charcoal for taking some time out from his busy schedule to answer some questions about these cool briquettes. Look for a review in the future. ~DRR

1) So how did this concept come about?

The idea was born on my many trips overseas seeing locals using coconut shells among other materials for heat and cooking. It was then that I began working on a prototype and soon after a factory.

2) How long have you been in business? How are sales?

We introduced Coshell Charcoal to the USA market in 2010 after approx a year of preparation . Sales have grown each year with great success.

3) What has the biggest challenge been? Biggest surprise?

The biggest challenge is consumer awareness and misconceptions. One of the questions I have heard is, Does Coshell make the food taste like coconut ? And the answer is Coshell does not impart any coconut flavor to your food just that great BBQ taste!

Biggest surprise has been acceptance by retailers and consumers alike in short order. As you know this is a KIngsford dominated category for a long time and what we have found is a consumer will try Coshell because it is made from coconut and is an alternative to all wood based charcoals in the market.

4) Are their advantages to coconut shell charcoal? Disadvantages? Heat and burn time comparable to “regular charcoal”?

Customers who try Coshell keep coming back because Coshell burns longer & hotter with less carbon emitted in the environment, No harmful additives just pure coconut shells and vegetable starch , less harmful smoke and the ash waste is a natural fertilizer and can be tossed on the lawn, so no messy cleanup!
Coshell burns at a sustained high heat double the amount of time of Kingsford Briquette . One of our greatest success we have had is BBQ Competition teams from all over the country switching to Coshell from Kingsford , Hardwood or lump charcoal to Coshell . Because the burn times are so significant with Coshell people find the consistency of the briquette along with no harmful additives in our charcoal is a better way to go instead of Hardwood and Lump Charcoals and certainly Kingsford.

5) How does the cost compare?

We are the best value on shelf , Coshell is a greater savings pound for pound over Kingsford and others.

6) Available anywhere? Best way to buy?

Available in many supermarket chains and Hardware Chains like Wholefoods, Albertsons, Lowes Home Improvement, Sprouts, Shop Rite, Acme, and many other regional supermarket chains. Available online at BedBathAndBeyond.com,Amazon.com and others.

Follow Coshell on FACEBOOK

Learn more about Coshell at their WEBSITE

Contest and Another Contest!
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If you haven’t read my interview about Rudolph Foods, then I suggest you do!

The folks from Rudolph were kind enough to send me some of their great pork rinds to try and I gotta tell you – they didn’t last long! They sent me Plain, Bold and Spicy BBQ, and Hot and Spicy.

I haven’t really eaten pork rinds a lot, but these were the best I have had, honestly. They were crunchy and fluffy, and very flavorful. The BBQ ones had a gentle tang, and the Hot ones definitely had some zing, but weren’t overpowering. The whole family loved these, and they really did go quick.

The Rudolph folks are running a really cool contest, you can play here: Pass The Pork Rinds CONTEST

You can play daily and win $3500 and some yummy snacks! Further, if you make a purchase, Rudolph’s will make a donation to Grid Iron Greats!

Finally, the good folks at Rudolph’s have graciously offered to sponsor a contest here! So, here’s how you enter to win a bunch of snacks for your own “nom nom nom”:

1) LIKE Rudolph’s Foods on Facebook

2) Follow my sister site Desert Rat Outdoors on Twitter

3) Add a COMMENT here, saying you’ve completed steps 1 & 2

For everyone who completes all 3 steps, I’ll put your names in a hat and pull a winner!

You may be surprised at the nutritional facts about Pork Rinds!

Learning More About the Man Behind Rudolph Foods
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I’m hoping you saw my post about Rudolph Foods. This looks like a very cool company and they’re sponsoring a contest here next week, and I’m going to review some samples as well. In the meantime, I wanted to learn more about the man behind Rudolph Foods.I’d really like to thank Sue from RMD Advertising who was instrumental in helping with the interview, and Mark Singleton – the man answering all those questions! ~DRR

1. How on earth did you get into the snack food business? Specifically – pork rinds?

Ever since I was a wee lad I wanted to be in the food business. The pork rind business was a lucky accident. Someone once wrote, “the purpose of food is to nourish our bodies, the power of food is to bring people together.” I like that a lot. Every week we make millions of people happy for about a buck…not many people can say that. After graduating from college, I worked for a consulting firm. One of my clients made food processing equipment. I joined them in 1992 as cice President and General Manager. We bought the company in 1996 and sold it in 2003. Rudolph Foods Company was one of our bigger customers and I joined them later that year. The rest is pork rind history.

2. For those who might not know – what is the difference between “rinds” and “cracklins”?

People have been eating pork rinds for more than 2,000 years. Remember nothing is wasted on a pig but the squeal! If you talk to whole hog BBQ pitmasters they will tell you the crackling is full of flavor and pulled pork is not the same with out it. The crackling is from the shoulder or ham skin of a pig and is made with fat attached. The rind is made from back and belly skins and has no fat attached. Both are great!

3. What’s your favorite snack?

My favorite snack is my daughter’s homemade chocolate chip cookies followed by our new Chili Limon Dipper Cracklins.

4. What’s the farthest your company has shipped an order?

We ship to more than 28 countries and to hundreds of customers. We have even managed to get rinds to our troops in countries around the world!

5. Do you think that you will stick with pork rinds and cracklins, or do you see diversification in your future?

We love our customers and are continuing to develop new snacks that we think will surprise and satisfy. Our Jalapeno Cheese Curls, Dulce Caliente Popcorn and Tropical Plaintains are just a few of the new snacks.

6. I hear you’re a hunter. What’s your favorite hunt?

This year marks the 50th anniversary I will be going deer hunting with my dad and the 27th year with my kids. We have been hunting on the same lease in south Texas for more than 30 years. As my mom says, we are “making memories”. We hunt about 11,000 acres of some of the finest whitetail country in Texas. We also have over a dozen Asian and African species. Lots of deer, food and campfire stories.

7. What’s the dream hunt on your wish list?

Cape Buffalo. I would love to hunt something so powerful! We have been hunting wild boars with knives for the last ten years or so and I would like to turn it up a notch.

8. Do you have distributors in the Southwest, or is the best way to purchase online?

We have distributors in most major cities in the south. You can find us in all Walmarts and customers can purchase online as well.

9. What is something about your business or products that might surprise my readers?

Pork rinds are 0 carbs, 0 trans fats, and high in protein! We contain more protein than a serving of peanuts.

A huge “Thank You” to Mark Singleton, VP of Marketing for Rudolph Foods for taking some time out to talk about himself and his company! You can check them out on Facebook too!

Learning More About Salsa Maya
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I’m really hoping that you read my review on Salsa Maya. What a great product! Well, I was so impressed with this great product that I wanted to learn more about their company.

A huge “Thank You” to Victoria Gonzalez for taking some time out to answer questions about her company! ~DRR

1) How long have you been in business? How did you decide to go to market with this product?

Victoria – Salsa Maya became an idea in 2012 and we began the process of starting a new company but it wasn’t until 2014 that I was able to do it full time and we began placing it in the market. Salsa Maya has been loved by many members of our family and friends. It got to a point where we would make gallons for our friends because they kept on running out and stealing all of our tupperware, so that was when we decided that if we had so many people hooked, why not develop this Salsa Maya and share our product with the world? At the time when we were developing the idea I was at The Culinary Institute of America studying to be a chef and I saw it as a perfect opportunity to follow my time at this prestigious school.

2) The product is amazing! Is it an old family recipe? How did you come up with it?

Victoria – Salsa Maya is an old family recipe and I do not remember a time were the habanero aioli wasn’t on our table. Obviously back then it was just called the salsa and it was made by my Dad weekly. We actually named it Salsa Maya because in 2012 when we were developing the idea it was the end of the Mayan Calender and it was a perfect way to begin a new era.

3) One thing that was interesting to me in your literature is the health benefits of habaneros – can you talk about that?

Victoria – As a Chef, I have to be conscious of what I serve and for Salsa Maya to taste great it has to have the best ingredients. People are becoming a lot more aware of what they put in their mouth which is great. This isn’t a fad, it is a way of living and I feel that it was a custom that was lost with mass production. So I like to share the information and health benefits of the habanero so people learn more about Salsa Maya and learn that the habanero isn’t just a “really hot scary pepper”. The habanero has incredible health benefits, which comes to no surprise when you learn the indigenous people consume it in their everyday diet.

4) Do you think you will diversify and develop new products, or are you going to stick with this?

Victoria – As a company of course, we want to keep on growing and developing new products. It is in our goals to develop more great tasting products and of course keeping the Deliciously Spicy flavors going. Many people ask us if we would make a mild version, but until this moment we really enjoy our habanero aioli and when we develop a mild product maybe it will be something different.

5) If someone had never heard of your product, what would you want them to know?

Victoria – As I mentioned before, this is our first year in the actual market and we are trying to reach as many people as possible. I would want the people who are just learning about Salsa Maya to know that it is a Deliciously Spicy sauce and it goes great on everything and it serves many uses while cooking. Salsa Maya can be used as a marinade, dip, spread, dressing and many other ways. Salsa Maya is full of flavor and yes it is spicy but it won’t overwhelm your palate and will enhance your food without overpowering it.

6) Are you nationwide? What is the best way to buy?

Victoria – We are trying to sell nationwide, but everything comes with time and we aren’t trying to rush it. I am really enjoying this process of growing and growing with my company. I do believe we have grown a lot in these past months. Currently we are selling in certain cities in Texas and Colorado. Visit our web page www.salsamayaus.com – we like to hear from people who want to see it in a store near them and we are trying to enter as many states as possible in order to get it to our customers. To make it accessible for the rest of the country we sell it through the help of many great online companies who love Salsa Maya for example; iBurn, Texasfoods, JustEnoughHeat, and others who are in the process of selling it through their online stores.

I truly hope that everyone enjoys and loves our product and hopefully one day it can become to many families what is has become for us!

Thanks again to Victoria! You can also find them on Facebook