Jason Azevedo

Posted on March 11, 2011 – 8:01 PM | by Admin
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by Sarah Singleton Photos by Scott Duncan

What’s that old saying about not wanting to watch sausage being made? It’s poppycock, I say, an old husband’s tale. At least it’s true with the sausage I buy, which is made from locally sourced pork, butchered by a skilled chef, and spiced and smoked with an expert hand.

I buy sausage from a local CSA. That’s community-supported agriculture. My CSA just happens to feature meat and meat products. Once a month the offerings are posted via a Facebook group; I order what I want, and a few weeks later we have a “meat-up” to pick up the goods.

Meet Jason Azevedo: butcher, charcutier, chef, and sausage deliverer. The man behind Testa Duro Salumi.

“Testa Duro” means “hard-headed” or “stubborn” in Italian – which is what Azevedo’s “Nonno”, or grandfather, Victor Bianchini called him. And it was at his Nonno’s knee that Azevedo first learned to cook. He admits to being a little stubborn, but said that for him “hard-headedness” means quality, and not always taking the easy way out.

Azevedo first learned the art of sausage making in restaurant kitchens; it wasn’t until charcuterie became his hobby that he fine-tuned his art. One thing led to another, and a few pork butts weren’t enough to satisfy his sausage-making hunger. He had to get his hands on some whole pigs.

The bright idea came for a CSA when Azevedo needed to figure out ways to fund his habit. How to get enough meat to really experiment? How to make enough product to fully develop his own recipes and special flavor combinations? He turned to his friends, who appreciated the availability of fresh, local meat and handcrafted sausages at bargain prices. A meat CSA was born.

Soon, the friends were telling their friends, and those friends told their acquaintances. A Facebook page was created. Magazines, bloggers and food-lovers from all over began hearing of his sausage genius. Somehow, Azevedo manages to continue as a working chef at Stone House Bistro in El Dorado Hills and process 175 pounds of meat per month—making assorted sausages, pates and rillettes, bacon, beautiful smoked hams, whole cuts of pork, as well as specialty items like the delicious bacon marmalade and bacon chops.

The chef sources all of his pigs from local commodity ranchers. The majority of the pigs are non-intensively raised, with no animal-byproduct diets. In plain English, this means you are getting pork that may have been raised in a pasture, not eating their farm-animal brethren and are likely not getting injected full of hormones. This is a good thing.

The pigs are broken down by Azevedo and turned into a variety of sausages; such as bratwurst, the ‘Nonno’—an Italian sausage packed with garlic, herbs, red wine and calabresa powder – breakfast links and more. Some of the hog is butchered and sold as parts, like ribs and loins. Some other standouts are the smoked items, such as hams, smoked sausages such as hot links, and bacon. Azevedo recently came across a real Colonial-style smokehouse and hopes to be smoking his products there soon.

Special orders are available, too, in orders of three pounds or more. Have you looked everywhere for some red-hots or boudin? I bet the chef would give it a shot. We recently ordered a Washington DC special, the “half-smoke” and they proved to be at least as good as Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Move beyond the vegetable and fruit CSA. Join us. Look up “Testa Duro Salumi” on Facebook and hit “like”. You are only one “meat-up” away from sausage nirvana!

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