In the Belly of the Pig
Transforming pork with Jonathan Burlison of Pigasus
He thought he would have to move to Maryland and become an oyster farmer. After the conclusion of a long, creatively stimulating project — a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology, to be exact — Jonathan Burlison wanted a new challenge. Hence, the oyster idea. His wife, Alissa, talked him out of the radical career change, and Jonathan found a job he loves at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Then Jonathan realized that a new culinary challenge was already deeply embedded in his hometown culture. A native Memphian, Jonathan turned to pork as his next creative frontier. Rather than enter the crowded barbecue arena, he focused on whole-muscle salumi products. That’s fancy-speak for cured, smoked, aged products like bacon and capicola.
A love of salumi had been slowly simmering in Jonathan for about a decade. It began when he visited Cochon, a New Orleans restaurant famous for its inventive and delicious pork dishes. As Jonathan studied the display cases full of cured meats at the wine bar, the bartender asked him if he wanted to sample them. Jonathan said, “Sure!”
Read the entire story — pick up a copy of the current Edible Memphis.
Quick Guide to Pigasus Products:
- Hickory-smoked bacon: Traditional, extra-smoky bacon that is cured and aged for an additional 7 days after being cold-smoked.
- Pancetta: Italian-style bacon that is cured with spices, not smoked, and aged for a minimum of 30 days.
- Lonza: Cured and aged pork loin that is subtly spiced. A great addition to a plate of charcuterie or salumi, aged for 20–40 days.
- Capicola: From the “coppa” muscle, arguably the best cut on a pig. The “hot” style is cured with a slight kick and aged 20–40 days.
- Bresaola: A northern-Italian specialty and the only beef product Pigasus carries. Cured with a blend of spices and aged for 20–40 days.
- Smoked tofu: Extra-firm tofu that is pressed, seasoned with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and briefly smoked.
- Smoked sea salt flakes: Fine-quality flaked sea salt that is smoked for several days; smoking wood varies. Excellent for finishing or anything that needs a bit of smoke flavor.
Look for Pigasus at the Memphis Farmers’ Market, Downtown on Saturdays through Thanksgiving, 7 am – 1 pm.