Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ray's Own Brand - Hot

Ray's Own Brand - HotRay's Own Brand is a line of beef jerky produced by the husband and wife team of Raymond Cattaneo and Nina Marie. The business has been around since 2003, based out of San Luis Obispo, CA.

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 makes their own beef jerky at their facility in SLO. Ray oversees the individual batch processing, while Nina Marie directs all business operations.

The Cattaneo's jerky business benefits from a growing interest in "artisan jerky" across the central coast of California, an area long known for its wines and cattle ranches.


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


The first taste that hits my tongue is a tanginess, that perhaps comes from the cider vinegar marinade. The next is a saltiness, and then comes the natural meat flavors. The garlic is also rather pronounced in this. With some chewing, I get mostly the natural meat flavors.

That tangy taste I described above is something I've come to find common in all the varieties produced by Ray's Own Brand. It adds a really unique taste that I think is created by the rather thick slices of this meat. Being cut so thick, the cider vinegar doesn't totally evaporate from the dehydration process. At least, that's my educated guess. I think it's the secret that makes Ray's Own Brand such a great jerky.

For being advertised as a hot variety, I don't perceive this as being hot by any means. It's definitely spicy, but not necessarily hot. I'd rate it as mild-medium. The package is labeled, "Zowie Sheshah Hot Hot", suggesting this is going to set your mouth ablaze. Hardly! If anything what I get is a slight burn as an aftertaste from eating several pieces. Each piece offers very little burn, if any. If you just go by the ingredients list, the black pepper is the only thing peppery in this. But looking at the pieces, it appears there is red pepper, or cayenne. I'm going to say it's cayenne. Either way, it's not hot.

That doesn't mean this jerky is disappointing, it's a very great tasting jerky. It's similar to the black peppered variety I review earlier, except with the added taste of red pepper and/or cayenne.

The predominant taste in this jerky is the natural meat flavors and that tanginess of the cider vinegar. In other reviews of Ray's Own Brand I've written I described it as a sharp beef flavor, meaning the beef flavor is much more discernible from the other flavors.

Salt is another dominating flavor, but I'm not about to call this "too salty". I could do with less salt, but I'm finding enough flavors in this that offsets it. The garlic, on the other hand, is identifiable in this, but not to the point where you end up smelling like an Olive Garden restaurant.

Overall, this is a very tasty jerky that offers up a great natural meat flavor, with a tangy marinade, and lots of seasonings to enjoy in the black pepper, garlic, and red pepper/cayenne. While it's not quite hot, it still gives you some spicy bite.

Meat Consistency

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

This is a dry jerky, but one that's rather rigid. You can't really bend these pieces without cracking or breaking them.

The only way to eat this is to grab a meat grain with your canine tooth, and pull the piece away, just like stripping off a piece of string cheese. For the most part, they tear off with some ease, though you'll need to put a little muscle into it. I found one smaller piece that was very tough.

Otherwise, I found nothing else chewy in this like gristle or tendon. It's also extremely lean, no pieces of fat.

Overall, this is a tough jerky that can be tolerated for the most part. It still subtracts from the overall enjoyment of the flavors, however.

Ray's Own Brand - Hot

Ray's Own Brand - Hot


I'm giving this a good rating.

And I'm giving a good rating under duress.

It just doesn't live up to its advertised flavor, which I've made into an important rating factor. Perhaps if Ray's Own Brand advertised this as a spicy variety, which doesn't necessarily equate to being hot, I'd be inclined to give it a best rating. It's a technicality based on my review criteria.

Otherwise, this Hot variety from Ray's Own Brand is a delicious beef jerky that packs in a great tasting, and tangy, meat flavor, combined with an array of spices in the black pepper, cayenne, garlic, and salt.

While the meat consistency is rather tough, it tends to vary from one piece to another. I'm willing to bet that other packages of this same variety may be easier to eat. Still, based on this review sample, it's tough.

But the star of this jerky, just as in other varieties from Ray's, is that wonderful beef flavor that comes from this. It illustrates the reason why many of us jerky lovers eat jerky, for great tasting meat.

My beer recommendation is the same as with other Ray's Own Brand jerkies, a lambic, perhaps a cherry or raspberry.

Rating: Good (4/5)

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  1. Ray's Own Brand Hot beef jerky is my favorite! It is just the right amount of spice with out being over powering. Everyone must try this jerky, you will be happy you did!

  2. My kids love the hot beef jerky and I love buying it for them because it is such a healthy snack!