Friday, August 29, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Hickory

Ray's Own Brand - HickoryRay's Own Brand is a line of beef jerky produced by the business of the same name, based out of San Luis Obispo, CA. It was started by Raymond Cattaneo and wife Nina Marie in 2003.

The Cattaneo's beef jerky business follows their successful barbecue service, Cattaneo BBQ Service, which they've been doing since 1971 across the central coast of California. Ray's grandfather was William Cattaneo who started Cattaneo Bros. Beef Jerky, and since the age of 9 has been working in the meat smoking trade.

Ray's Own Brand is a husband & wife operation with Ray overseeing the individual batch processing, with Nina Marie directing all business operations. They make their own beef jerky at their own faciliy.

The valleys around the California central coast have long been known for its cattle ranches and vineyards, but only recently began enjoy some popularity for its artisan jerky.


Beef, water, cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, garlic, sodium nitrite.


A strong smokiness is easily detected upon putting a piece into my mouth. Next, I can taste natural meat flavors, and a bit of saltiness. With some chewing, the natural meat flavors come out even more, and then I get some tanginess, which is probably the cider vinegar marinade.

For being advertised as a hickory variety, I can indeed pick up a smokiness that resembles hickory. But that hickory taste is mostly on the surface, once I get into the chewing, that flavor wanes.

The natural beef flavors is perhaps the most dominant flavor in this. It's more of a sharp beef flavor than a mellow one, and has a rather addicting taste, particularly if you're a beef lover.

The cider vinegar mentioned in the ingredients list is perhaps what gives this meat a tanginess. It's also a dominating flavor in this review sample, and is probably what makes Ray's Own Brand such a favorite among jerky snackers.

I don't find this jerky to be all that salty, even though salt is another large taste component here. Note that the nutrition label represents the whole 2oz package, instead of the industry standard 1oz serving.

There's a substantial amount of black pepper to be seen on these pieces, but it's taste is not well identified. I can perhaps get a slight black pepper aftertaste in the back of my mouth. If anything, the pepper adds to the "taste ambiance".

Overall, the mixture of the natural meat flavors with the tanginess of the cider vinegar marinade, is a very pleasing combination, that really makes the Ray's Own Brand line very enjoying to eat. There's perhaps enough hickory smoke flavor in this to warrant the advertisement on the package, but it's the natural meat flavor and that tanginess that dominates this jerky.

Meat Consistency

These are cuts of whole meat, sliced into very thick slices, and in small to medium sized pieces.

While I would classify this as a dry jerky, it's actually moist as well. That's because the slices are so thick, that the portion deep inside the thickness has some moistness to it. In fact, that probably explains the tanginess. The cider vinegar marinade deep inside the thickness is protected from the dehydration. What results is a piece of jerky similar to a medium-rare steak.

Tearing off a piece is easy as long as you tear with the grain. It's best to grab a grain, and strip it off like string cheese. If you tried to bite off against the grain, you couldn't do it being these pieces are so thick.

There's enough fat marbilization in these pieces that the fat adds to the overall flavor of this jerky, and I think is part of also makes this so enjoyable. In terms of finding chewy stuff, I did actually find a good-sized strip of tendon in one of the pieces. The other pieces had no tendon, no gristle, and nothing else chewy.

Overall, I'd say this jerky has a great meat consistency.

Ray's Own Brand - Hickory

Ray's Own Brand - Hickory


I'm giving this a best rating.

This Hickory Smoked variety from Ray's Own Brand offers a wonderful taste experience with its great natural meat flavors and the tanginess of the marinade. It has a meat consistency similar to a medium-rare steak, being dry on the outside, and semi-moist on the inside.

The other seasonings are mostly light to medium, and do a pretty good job of framing the natural meat flavors. It's the salt that seems to be most noticeable.

I'd love to take a package of this jerky with me to my favorite tavern, sit outside in the patio, with a ice cold beer, and savor the flavors this jerky has to offer. As for that beer recommendation, I keep wanting something fruity, like a cherry or raspberry lambic.

Rating: Best (5/5)

Buy this online:


  1. Great blog! You should definitely try Tilamook sweet teriyaki. That is some amazing stuff.

  2. This beef jerky is so flavorful I just can't get enough of it! I love Ray's Own Brand!

  3. Thank you so much for all your work in describing and listing these beef jerky products! My family is on a special diet and my oldest LOVES beef jerky. Finding a high quality jerky with out all the extra fillers and ingredients has been very hard! But now we have a winner!!