Contest and Another Contest!
Posted by

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
Posted by

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
Posted by

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 – 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

How To Load Your Man Cave With the Right Snacks
Posted by

I’d like to thank Maryam and Sue at RMD Advertising, and especially the good folks at Rudolph Foods for reaching out to me and offering info about their company, recipes, tips for stocking your man cave with snacks and even some goodies for a contest!

Also – I’m going to do an interview with company founder Mark Singleton!

So while you’re waiting for the contest (wanna win free pork rinds??), go ahead an poke around the Rudolph sites:



Check out yummy recipes, huntin’ stories and more – MAN TALES

Review – Espresso Bean Balsamic BBQ Sauce
Posted by

You may have read my review of the Queen Creek Olive Mill, a cool local attraction. I was there picking up a gift a few weeks ago and saw some BBQ sauce that I really had to try!

Coffee (espresso) is one of my favorite flavors when it comes to barbecue. I love it in sauces, and I especially love it incorporated into rubs, so I was anxious to give this sauce a try.

It was amazing! You get the deep, rich notes of espresso – they weren’t stingy, but it doesn’t overpower the sauce either.I also loved the tangy, swirling flavor of balsamic – those 2 flavors are the perfect partners! This sauce has exactly what I enjoy – complexity. It’s cool t take a bit of something and have a whole bunch of different flavors bouncing around in your mouth!

The sauce is thick, with some chunks in it too – this isn’t some goop that was pureed to death.It is a great consistency, and very flavorful. I have used it on pork, on chicken and even in some sandwiches!

Although the Queen Creek Olive Mill is a local attraction, you can absolutely buy online too! Visit their store – I guarantee you could spend an entire morning or afternoon browsing online just like you could at their real store in Queen Creek! You can learn more about their great sauces here: Herbs, Spices & Sauces

Food Porn
Posted by

As I wait for some more interviews to wrap up, and some more products come in for review, it occurred to me that I have made some pretty tasty stuff over the years!

Salsa Maya – A Review
Posted by

I review a lot of good products on this site. As a matter of fact, regular followers of The Dry-Rubbed Rat may be a bit suspicious regarding the fact that I have never posted a bad review. Well, there are a couple of reasons for that. First, due to time constraints, this site gets the lowest volume of content, of all my sites. I just am not pushing a ton of product reviews here. Second, I’m pretty selective on what products I review. I try to reach out to companies who have interesting and/or yummy looking products.

All that to say that Salsa Maya may just be the most interesting, the hottest, and the most flavorful product I have reviewed yet. Salsa Maya is an habanero aioli and it’s amazing.

I’m gringo through and through, born and raised in eastern Canada. “Spicy” to me used to be “salt and pepper”. Having lived in Arizona for nearly 17 years though, my palate has toughened up and I usually choose “medium” spicy – whether it’s Thai food, Mexican, or whatever. Habanero anything is a bit intimidating to me. That being said, I was intrigued. I reached out to the folks at Salsa Maya via their Facebook page and pretty soon Victoria Gonzalez kindly had a bottle on the way to me. I had a feeling about this, and couldn’t wait to try it. Honestly, my first taste was mixed in with a little bit of plain jasmine rice my wife and daughter had cooked up for something else. I was hooked!

Photo courtesy of Salsa Maya

The flavor profile in Salsa Maya is very complex (to me). My wife and I had a discussion at the dinner table. I said “I love this stuff, but I’m not sure I can describe it”. Make no mistake, it is hot. But it’s not overwhelmingly so. The garlic and the creaminess of the aioli smooth out that heat so it’s not simply hitting you in the face. If you’re an aficionado of hot stuff, you’ll like this. If you can handle up to “medium” in the spiciness category, I think you will be able to enjoy this too. There are a ton of flavors bouncing around in this smooth, creamy heat. I’m loving it honestly, and using it on everything.

I made a fried egg and pastrami sandwich today (my “cheat” meal for the weekend) and smeared it all up with Salsa Maya, My wife mixed it in with tuna the other day to make a tuna salad sandwich. This is gooooood stuff….

Wondering what you’d do with it? Salsa Maya has taken some of the mystery out of that conundrum by providing a recipe page on their website along with product info, nutritional values (calories and all that stuff) and some pretty interesting information about the health and dietary benefits associated with habaneros.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how many different things this will work with. I think I’ll be ordering some more soon. If you’re looking for something hot, or something different, or something that pairs well with everything from steak to fish to sandwiches – I really, really recommend you try some Salsa Maya.

Thanks again to Victoria – look for a company profile and interview coming up in the future.

Checking In With The Lady Behind Vaquero’s
Posted by

Hopefully you read my review of Vaquero’s Dipping Sauce awhile back. My family has been loving this sauce and trying it on everything! I’m always curious when I try a new product to learn “the story” behind it. A big “Thank You” to Michelle Sassen for taking the time to answer some questions!

1. So how long have you been doing this?

I have been making this sauce for years! I can’t really remember exactly when it started. I’m not a chef, foodie, or anything special. I just grew up in the sticks where we learned to make do with what we had on hand. Glean all you can from people, magazines, and the internet then use it and adapt it to your advantage. My husband had hounded me for years to bottle it and to take it to market. I resisted. He finally wore me down in March 2011. After much research and development, we were able to finally run the first production batch of 2000 lbs. on 3/2/12.

2. How did you get started?

I was verbally given an unclear recipe that was emulated from Mustard’s Grill in Napa Valley. By unclear I mean that to me it was unclear. I didn’t know what “BBQ spices” were so I grabbed Montreal seasoning out of my cupboard and used that and when the recipe said that the chilies were ground in a coffee grinder giving it “just a hint of coffee”, I decided I certainly wasn’t about to cross contaminate my coffee with chili by using my coffee grinder to grind the chilies, I just scooped the freshly ground coffee directly into the sauce. Chilies were ground in the old coffee grinder set aside for spices only! I played around with the ratio until I finally found the perfect sauce.

3. How are sales going?

Considering the time I have had to put into it, surprisingly well. During this whole process of bringing Vaquero’s to the mass market, my husband had a motorcycle accident which put much of our lives on hold and has given our lives quite a few ups & downs. Our customer base is mostly in small local stores in Mendocino County where we are based, on our website, a friends pecan farm stand/online (Superior Pecans), and online with Bourbon & Boots.

4. What was the biggest surprise/challenge getting this to market?

The biggest surprise to me is that so many people like it and are willing to buy and/or sell it.

The biggest challenge getting this to market as a complete newcomer to the food business is learning how to do so while doing the bookkeeping for my husband’s business and working 30 +/- hours a week for a physical therapy office.

5. Are the other sauces or products in your future?

Yes! I have a mild version for those who don’t like it as spicy, an Asian Fusion sauce where east meets west, a Vaquero’s BBQ rub based on the sauce, a Smokey Montreal rub which I stumbled on while creating Vaquero’s BBQ Rub, and what my youngest daughter has named “MOMtreal” rub which is my personal version of Montreal. Unfortunately, as many know – it takes considerable time, research, and funding to get each product to market. I have everything past the research and development level. Nutritional values are ready. Art work is in progress. As for funding, well I haven’t been able to do just yet. I have high expectations that in the not too distant future I will be able to bring all my products to the public.

6. What’s your favorite recipe or use of your sauce?

I personally, eat, drink, and sleep this sauce. But I love it on chicken. Barbecued of course and with EXTRA sauce in a small dipping bowl to dip prior to popping it into my mouth. I also love pulled pork (or chicken) sandwiches.

DRR: Thanks again to Michelle for taking time out to tell us more about the story behind Vaquero’s. You can visit their website here: VAQUERO’s WEBSITE. I can’t wait to try the other goodies that Michelle has in store for us!

Product Review – 8th Wonder Spice
Posted by

I really need to thank Andy Krish from 8th Wonder Spice for sending me some of his amazing spice blend to sample.

Adding on to the story of the 7 Wonders of the World, the 8th Wonder website states “…8th Wonder Foods continues this tradition with a unique and delicious spice blend that is a monument to epicurean excellence.

Perfected over time, 8th Wonder Spice Blend combines 17 natural ingredients, including cocoa and coffee to create a unique, full-bodied seasoning that compliments all foods.

As a rub, 8th Wonder redefines the standard of taste for steak, ribs, chicken and seafood.

As a seasoning, 8th Wonder Spice Blend transforms tacos, chili, soups, sauces and stews into gourmet masterpieces.

No matter how you use it, the unique flavor of 8th Wonder Spice Blend will enhance the taste of all your favorite meals.”

This spice blend rub comes in a cool container. It smells fresh, and is ground to a fine texture for sure, but it does have some coarse bits in it too. It smells amazing. Now, I have never been to Morocco, but that is the first thing I thought of – exotic, far away north Africa. You can smell hints of the coffee and cocoa for sure, but there is a ton of other stuff in there too. Now to taste it!

The first thing I tried it on was wings in the smoker. Now to be fair, I had never done wings in my smoker before.

Fast forward to the final product… they tasted good, but my execution was poor. After I had smoked the wings, I didn’t (couldn’t) get the temp up high enough to crisp them. Next time I will finish in a hot oven.

Even though my wings failed on technique, I was hooked on the flavor. I have since tried 8th Wonder on steak, on fish, and I even cooked lentils with it the other day.This is a unique, flavorful product and everything I have used it on has tasted amazing. I really would recommend it whether you are smoking, grilling or ummm… cooking lentils lol

I circled back with Andy to chat about the product.

What are some of your favorite recipes? (I did tell him about my epic wing-fail)

I really love 8th Wonder Wings but I grill them and then slow roast them off to the side so they get crispy and well done. I can see how simply smoking them would not crisp them up. Don’t give up though. Try 8th Wonder on something else. I truly love a steak, seasoned with 8th Wonder and then grilled over a hot fire. There are so many ways to use it though, it’s hard to know which one is my favorite. 8th Wonder Sugar and Spice bacon is awesome. 8th Wonder Crab Pie is delicious. 8th Wonder Tacos, Fajitas and Quesadillas are great too. Look at the recipe section on my website and I’ll send you a few more.

How long have you been in business?
We have been selling 8th Wonder for about 6 years although we have been making it for about 20 years. Friends and family always loved it and some of them encouraged us to sell it. We kept our full time jobs and started marketing 8th Wonder in our spare time. It has been selling quite well recently so it is like having two full time jobs. (My regular job is as a prop master or set decorator on television and feature films. I used to be a kitchen manager and chef.)

How did you come up with the recipe?

The recipe started as a basic rub and seasoning that I used in a restaurant in Raleigh, NC in the 80′s. My daughter and I modified it and tested it until it was just as we wanted it. As a family secret, we included cocoa as the one secret ingredient known only by us. One day, when friends were enjoying some 8th Wonder Wings, my son excitedly told everyone at the table that it had a secret ingredient and that the secret ingredient was cocoa. He knew right away that he had spilled the beans and his sister was upset with him. He was mortified as we assured him it was okay and that we would come up with another secret ingredient. We did, but we didn’t tell him that it was coffee. It was years later when he was helping to package it that he realized the secret ingredient was coffee. We can’t keep ingredients secret any longer so now the world knows what makes 8th Wonder so unique and delicious.

Is this a rub? A spice? What are some of the best uses?
8th Wonder is a rub and a seasoning. It can be used on anything grilled and it can be used as a seasoning in dishes as diverse as meatloaf, seafood boils and seasoned nuts. I call it an all purpose spice blend because it has so many uses and tastes great on virtually anything.

Are there other products in your future or do you think you’ll stick with this one?
Right now 8th Wonder Spice Blend is our only product. If our plans work out we want to release a smoked 8th Wonder Spice Blend, an 8th Wonder French Fry Seasoning and maybe an 8th Wonder Steak Sauce or Spicy Ketchup.

Again – if you’re a foodie, or a pit master, or a backyard grilling enthusiast looking for something really different, I really encourage you to try 8th Wonder Spice. This spice is so versatile that I can’t wait to keep trying it in different things. The sky is the limit!

Vaquero’s Dippin Sauce – A Review
Posted by

I made a brisket on the smoker the other day, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try some Vaquero’s BBQ and Dippin Sauce, which had been graciously sent to me by Michelle Sassen at Mendocino Merchandise LLC, so that I could do a review on it.

This sauce’s claim to fame is “Spicy Chipotle meets Cowboy Coffee”, and it fits the bill perfectly. Flavors are rich and complex. The sauce is dark reddish brown, and is fairly thick and has just a faint bit of chunkiness to it. The coffee flavor is definitely there, and is one of my favorite flavors when it comes to BBQ.This sauce has some heat too, but it is very subtle and sneaky. It’s not “hit you in the face” heat, but more of a “simmer and surprise you”. There are some complex flavors in the sauce – it’s a bit like HP or A-1 sauce, but that really doesn’t do it justice.

It went well with the brisket and everyone enjoyed it. I am definitely looking forward to trying Vaquero’s on some other meaty goodness. I’d definitely recommend it. Great flavors!