It’s been featured on the Food Network multiple times, the bookÂ 1000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die, and the Travel Channel’s show Deep-Fried Paradise. So what is this anonymous dive in the middle of New Jersey all about?
Okay, so going to the other side doesn’t help much? I guess that’s just the front door!
Walking into Rutt’s Hut feels like walking into any other rural and old-school American fast food counter. Without any knowledge of their claim to fame, it’s hard to find anything too remarkable about the place.
They’re most famous for their rippers, hot dogs with deep fried wieners that are all over New Jersey. The term ripper comes from how the casing of the wiener rips open after it’s been flash fried.
At Rutt’s Hut, they take it a step farther. There’s 3 levels of deep-fried goodness that you can get your hot dog as: the standard ripper, the weller, and the cremator, which as it sounds is the baddest, most well-fried wiener in the land.
I may be a snob when it comes to a food, but by no means am I only snobby about expensive food only cause good food can pop up in the unlikeliest of places! Time to try out a staple of New Jersey cuisine!
Things Roger Ate like a Pig
Ripper Hot Dog (right)â€“ 3.5/6 (Good – Very Good), $2.05
- Hot dog bun with flash-fried wiener, topped with homemade relish and dijon mustard
And there it is! You can see why the ripper gets its name, as the wiener just starts to bend, bulge, and rip open at certain places from the frying. The wiener itself was pretty typical: just a normal store-bought small wiener with a chewier skin than usual. I was surprised that it wasn’t fried more cause the chewiness got lost in the rest of the flavour. The inside of the wiener was pretty much untouched by the deep frying.
The wiener was a touch too fatty and less moist than your typical BBQ wiener but nothing unexpected from your average supermarket wiener.Â The bun was again quite standard, and I wished there was a larger meat-to-bread ratio.
The relish, now that was something special! It took one bite of this dog to figure out that I needed to put on a lot more than I did in this picture! It was a mustard based relish that was quite sweet, with small chunks of onions and carrots mixed in. It wasn’t too watery though and it was the perfect condiment for the hot dog! They also had typical dijon mustard and ketchup available too.
Cremator Hot Dog (left)Â â€“ 2.5/6 (Okay -Â Good), $2.05
- Hot dog bun with wiener deep-fried for about a minute, with homemade relish and mustard
So if that one wasn’t fried enough, how would this one do? Even just from looking at it, I knew it was going to be much more fried. The texture of the wiener was similar to a crumbly pie crust, with a thicker chewy layer from the sausage casing.
Surprisingly, it didn’t feel oily at all even with the sheen on its surface. The presence of a thin gap between the crumbly layer and the rest of the sausage reminded me texture-wise of a macaron shell.
It was so fried that the meat turned flaky in shape (not in texture though), leaving much of the wiener hollow. Unfortunately this meant that I didn’t get to taste that much meat flavour from the hot dog.
If I had my way, I would’ve loved to see this type of pie crust-like deep-fried skin on a thicker wiener like a bratwurst so that the meat inside left would be intact. The juicy meat and unique crunchy skin would have been a great contrast! Put some of their delicious relish on it and I would definitely give it a 4.5/6!
Onion RingsÂ â€“ 2/6 (Okay), $2.50
- Deep fried onion rings
For a few bucks this was a large plate of onion rings! Too bad there wasn’t anything too unique about these. The batter was heavily applied and overwhelmed most of the actual onion rings present.
The result was a plate of mostly deep-fried breading bits that was also quite greasy. Nothing wrong with these onion rings for the setting and customers that they serve, but certainly not as interesting as their hot dogs.
All in all, it was an interesting introduction to the world of ripper hot dogs! Next time I’ll give the moderate weller hot dog a try and see if it gets the perfect balance of meat and deep-friedness. And if that fails, there’s always the fallback plan of dousing it in delicious relish!
Date visited: Nov 18, 2012
Price range: $0 – $10