Can Pork Belly be Burnt Ends?
Pork Belly Burnt Ends? But I thought burnt ends are made from brisket? And who wants something burnt in the first place? Well, yeah, burnt ends are normally brisket. And no, they are not actually burnt. They are called burnt because burnt ends come from the point of the brisket. When cooking a whole brisket, the flat is done before the point usually is, so a lot of people pull the brisket when the flat is done and cube the point and put it back into the smoker until the meat is fall off the bone tender. They are in fact over cooked in the same way fall off the bone ribs are over cooked. Uber tender and delicious, but still over cooked. That’s what I did here. Get your toothpicks ready and sit back for a photographic journey to flavortown. I’ll explain that toothpick thing later. First, I want to give a shout out to Vindulge.com because that was the inspiration for this pork belly burnt ends recipe. You can check out Vindulge’s author, Mary, on Instagram.
Before we start, I highly recommend starting the grill/smoker but removing the grill grates while the cooker comes up to temp. More on that later. Set the temp to 250F.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends Ingredients:
- 1 full pork belly (approximately 10 lbs)
- 4 oz olive oil (divided)
- 4 oz BBQ rub (divided)
- 8 oz BBQ sauce (divided)
- 8 oz beer (divided
- 6 oz honey (divided)
- 1 tsp fresh ground cinnamon (divided)
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Looks like bacon, right? That’s because bacon is made from pork belly. This is just uncured bacon.
How to prepare the Pork Belly
Trim up any overly thick fat. We left the thinner stuff on, but the thick stuff on this end had to go:
And here is dad channeling his inner Salt Bae as he rolls up the strip of fat onto his finger:
For reference, this is the minimum you need to trim off. Mary from Vindulge.com took it all off. Totally a personal preference:
Next up, slice that bad boy into couple inch cubes:
Sliced and ready for the seasoning:
For this, you want to use some aluminum pans to really coat the soon to be pork belly burnt ends with seasoning. Put as many as you can in an aluminum pan (10 lbs won’t all fit into one pan) and drizzle with olive oil:
The next step in our pork belly burnt ends recipe is to slather the chunks of belly with your favorite BBQ rub:
Work it all around to coat all size sides of these candy cubes with the oil and rub. Then place the cubes on those grill grates you removed earlier, fat side down:
How to grill Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Place the racks of the raw pork belly into a 250F pellet smoker:
Here are my pork belly burnt ends ready for the foil, all mahogany and golden about 90 minutes in the pellet cooker:
Combine the BBQ sauce, beer, honey, and cinnamon in the bottom of an aluminum pan and mix together well. Add the pork belly burnt ends and then put the butter on top:
Once the butter is melted, really work the pork belly burnt ends around until they are completely coated. Then cover the pans in foil and put them back on the smoker.
How do we know when the burnt ends are done
Now comes the somewhat hard part. See, trying to get the internal temp of the pork nuggets is hard with as small as they are and with how much fat is there. The trick is to gauge the tenderness, not the temp. I know I always say cook to temp, but in this case, cook to tenderness. One way to test to see if they are uber tender is if they can can pass the toothpick test. Simply spear one with a toothpick and pull it back out. If it goes in and out like going through warm butter with a hot ice pick, then they have passed the toothpick test:
After they passed the toothpick test, we removed the foil from the top of the pan and allowed them to cook a little longer. This allowed the sauce to thicken up and take in some smoke flavor. We’re talking like 10 minutes here.
Plating our Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Now there are a number of ways of serving these. Just take the lid off the pan and hand out forks or toothpicks:
The funny thing about handing out toothpicks is that they have passed the toothpick test. Watch as your guests try to pick them up and the burnt ends keep sliding off the pick!! You can help them get the pork belly cubes out of the pan and onto the platter for an elegant presentation (with a can of beer!)
Or pile them on a platter:
No matter how you serve them, pork belly burnt ends will be a hit
Pork Belly Summary
But how do they taste? First, the meat absolutely melts in your mouth. It’s almost as if all you would need to do is crush the burnt ends on the roof of your mouth with your tongue to eat them. Second, the sauce is a combo of sweet and savory from the honey and BBQ sauce as well as velvety from the butter. Outstanding mouthfeel. Did I mention you can make these up ahead of time and warm up the next day or weeks later after freezing? When we made these two pans, some friends/neighbors helped to scarf down one pan. The other is in my freezer right now!?!? #LuckyGuy
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 1 full pork belly approximately 10 lbs
- 4 oz olive oil divided
- 4 oz your favorite BBQ rub divided
- 8 oz your favorite BBQ sauce divided
- 8 oz beer (divided
- 6 oz honey divided
- 1 tsp fresh ground cinnamon divided
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Trim the fat off the back of the pork belly
- Slice the belly into two inch cubes
- Place the cubes in aluminum pans and hit with the oil and rub and work the cubes around until they are coated evenly
- Pull the grill grates out of the grill and spark it up to 300 degrees
- Place the soon to be pork belly burnt ends on the grill grates and then into the grill when it hits 300
- Smoke for about 2 hours
- Prepare the glaze in new pans by pouring in the BBQ sauce, beer, honey and the ground cinnamon and combine thoroughly
- Remove the pork belly cubes from the smoker and place in the pans with the slurry and top with the butter
- The warm pork belly burnt ends should melt the butter quickly and then mix the pork nuggets around in the sauce to coat entirely
- Cover the aluminum pans with foil and place back into the smoker until the pork belly passes the toothpick test (a toothpick slides in and out of the meat with no effort at all and comes out clean) which is about an hour to 90 minutes
- Remove from the smoker and serve