Do you like Burnt Ends? I don’t. I love Burnt Ends! I love them all, the pork belly version, the poor man’s version (chuck roast), or even poorer man’s burnt ends made with bologna, but especially the original Beef Brisket Burnt Ends produced from the point (fatty part of the brisket). Like many of you I cruised the innerwebs and uncovered a few recipes that I liked, er loved. I’ve ‘borrowed’ ideas from a few favorites and tossed in a wrinkle or two of my own for this ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe. And despite this being the ultimate recipe, it’s still a fairly simple burnt ends recipe. While it is simple, it’s pretty labor intensive and not a quick cook by any means. This is going to take a while.
Ultimate Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe Ingredients
- Whole packer brisket or simply the point if available (prime grade preferred)
- Yellow mustard
- Your favorite beef or brisket rub or simply use salt, pepper and garlic (SPG)
- Beef broth or stock for spritzing
- 1/4 cup melted beef tallow
Let’s start with a little about how brisket burnt ends work.
How do you get burnt ends from a brisket?
Can you make burnt ends from the whole brisket?
Here is a close up of that layer of fat between the point (left) and the flat (right). I’m going to remove most of that:
Be sure to retain the trimmings in order to make beef tallow which has so many uses.
Get in there with a filet/boning knife and remove the fat until it looks as shown:
Why trim so much? Two reasons:
- Fat prevents smoke and seasoning from reaching the meat.
- I plan on separating the point and the flat later in the cook and removing that heavy layer of hard fat now will make that process easier later. Gotta keep it simple.
Let me peel back the flat back to give you a peek of the beautiful marbling of the point which will be turned into Brisket Burnt Ends.
Seasoning for the brisket
Should you have a favorite beef or brisket rub go ahead and use it. Ww can help expand your rubs and seasoning options with our VIP Club. I went with a simple (Texas-style?) rub for this hunk of beef. I used the salt, pepper and garlic in the ingredient list above:
I applied a thin coat of mustard as a binder for the rub:
Don’t sweat the mustard. As the brisket smokes, the mustard will melt away, leaving the seasoning and some outstanding bark.
What is bark and why do you want it?
Bark is the really dark crust that forms on the outside of meat that is cooked in smoke. The bark forms when the smoke combines with the seasoning and the liquid fat that is drawn out of the meat by the heat of the fire. The bark will look terrible for the untrained eye, but in fact, if done properly, the bark is the tastiest part of all barbecue. More on the bark later
I applied a heavy coat of the seasoning:
Don’t forget the edges!
Here’s a look at the flat lying upon the point almost ready to hit the smoker:
How to Smoke Brisket Burnt Ends
If you don’t have a dedicated smoker a standard charcoal or gas grill will work too. On a charcoal grill, put coals and smoke wood on one side and the brisket on the other side with a target temperature inside the grill between 275F-325F. On a gas grill, turn on the burner on one side and set a chunk of smoke wood on that burner and put the brisket on the other side. Gas grills tend to run hot, so I would cook the brisket, fat cap down in a disposable aluminum pan to shield the brisket from the higher temps.
For this cook, I loaded the fire basket of my trusty rectangle drum smoker (think drum smoker with a little more usable space) with some Rockwood lump charcoal and tossed in 4 chunks of post oak smoke wood and a couple handfuls of mesquite chips. Yeah, I’m kinda going Texas again here. If you are interested in knowing which smoke woods pair best with which proteins, let me help with our exhaustive list.
The grill is set over the fire basket there.
On a lower grate I filled a water pan:
Why use a water pan when smoking meat?
Keeping moisture in the chamber makes for better bark and will result in a better smoke ring, even tho the latter is purely cosmetic.
How to make the ultimate brisket burnt ends recipe
Scroll down to see step by step, picture by picture, foolproof grilling instructions on how to make these incredible burnt ends
And we’re on! I used a pan for the brisket to make it easier to handle but it isn’t essential:
Rolling at a little over 300F with a target temp in the 275F-325F range:
I readied beef stock for a simple spritz. That’s just beef broth in a spray bottle set on mist (not stream):
Spritz the brisket after the rub sets. After about an hour the rub will be adhered to the beef. If we spray before it adheres, then the rub will run off the brisket and down into the fire, thus requiring the rub be reapplied or the bark won’t be any good. After waiting an hour for the first spritz, feel free to spritz every 45 minutes or so.
After 2 hours, here’s what the brisket looks like:
Approximately 3.5 hours into the cook:
The flat reads 173F:
The point reads 159F:
Why is there a 14 degree discrepancy? It takes longer to render the fat out of the point. As the fat liquifies it cools down the meat. And that’s part of the reason for the burnt ends. A lot of pitmasters remove the point when the flat is done and serve the flat separately because a lot of times the flat finished cooking before the point was done. They threw the point back on the grill with a little sauce to make the pillowy soft burnt ends.
While the brisket smoked (I’m a smokin’ fool today!), it was the perfect time to prepare the special sauce crucial to a successful Brisket Burnt Ends cook.
Brisket Burnt Ends Sauce Ingredients
- 12 ounces of cola
- 1 cups barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (we used Andria’s Steak Sauce because it makes everything better)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark works)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Sprinkle of your favorite beef rub (I have so damn many!)
Pour the cola into a saucepan and heat until reduced by half. Full disclosure. I became anxious and didn’t cook it down long enough. More on that later.
Next add the barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce (we used Andria’s), brown sugar, salt, and butter and combine
After 4 hours we’re in the 175F-180F and it is time to wrap so i pulled the whole packer.
Before wrapping I separated the point and flat.
The muscles came apart so easily.
For the wrap I’m treating the two hunks of beef differently. I wrapped the flat in foil with a bit of beef broth added and the point was wrapped in peach butcher paper with Wagyu Beef Tallow added. Why, you ask? The flat is thinner and leaner than the point and tends to lose moisture rather quickly ultimately making it a bit chewy or tough. A little steam action in the foil will prevent that plus I can pull it when it reaches target temp way before the thicker point. The butcher paper will allow the point to breathe a little and preserve some bark.
Here’s the flat into the foil with broth and wrapped
The point goes onto the butcher paper with beef tallow added:
If you are wondering what the beef tallow is all about, we did a side by side between two briskets. On one we added some beef tallow. On the other we skipped it. The results were startling.
And then the point is wrapped:
Both the flat and the point go back on the smoker
Both parts of the brisket were pulled from the smoker after 5 hours. Pull the flat at around 203F. This flat was sitting at 201F. I wrapped the foiled flat in a bath towel and placed it into a faux cambro (the microwave works as would an empty cooler) to rest. We won’t be eating anytime soon. We’re after burnt ends, right? This is not a quick process. The flat will be saved for sandwiches later or perhaps used in our smoked brisket bean recipe.
We want to pull the point from the grill around 190F-195F. Here she is, unwrapped in all her glorious deliciousness
The point was trimmed into 1.5 inch cubes. A lot of recipes call for a one inch cube. Trust me here. A bigger cube is better as these will continue to render and thus get smaller:
The cubes of beef are placed into a disposable aluminum pan, the burnt end sauce poured over, given a drizzle of honey, and placed back into the smoker to simmer for a couple hours at 325F.
After approximately an hour I realized I made an error (This is where the ‘fool’ part comes in?). I hadn’t cooked the cola down enough initially and the mixture wasn’t ‘tacking up’ like I wanted. The remedy? I grabbed the turkey baster and removed some of the excess liquid. So here they are, ready to be pulled after a 2 hour soak and simmer. How did I know they were done? My probe thermometer told me. No, not the temp. The probe went in and out like knife through butter on a warm August day:
What is the best way to tell if Burnt Ends are done?
The best way is the toothpick test. A probe thermometer works as well. Not to check the temp to check if the meat is pillowy soft. Insert a toothpick or probe thermometer into the meat and slide it back out. If the meat sticks to the toothpick or probe then they aren’t done. If they slide in and out like buttah, then the burnt ends are done.
How does this closeup look?
Time to plate these beauties
What about those mini-skewers? This is how I like to serve Brisket Burnt Ends as appetizers. The cubes tacked up nicely and were full of flavor and very tender. Beef nirvana!
With a sprinkle of beef rub added
Once the photography was complete (the camera always eats first) I strolled over and presented the plate to my wife. The Brisket Burnt Ends passed her taste test and we finished the entire serving.
After we polished off that plate she asked “What’s for dinner?” I was ready with another serving idea. I went old school and showcased the Brisket Burnt Ends as a sandwich on plain white bread as was done in Kansas City where burnt ends supposedly originated. The skewer was removed and the bread folded around the cubes and dinner was complete. I will make this again very soon (I have a point waiting in the freezer).
They say that brisket is the king of all barbecue. It’s both the most delicious and hardest to master. Well, if brisket is the king, brisket burnt ends are the crown. Because they are are even tastier than standard brisket and are even harder to master. But once you do…. lookout!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.
Ultimate Brisket Burnt Ends Recipe
- 1 Food grade spritzing bottle
- 1 Whole packer brisket Prime grade preferred
- ¼ cup Yellow mustard Substitute mayonnaise if you don't want to go with the mustard
- ½ cup Your favorite beef rub Substitute salt, pepper and garlic
- Salt to taste
- 1 cup Beef broth or stock For spritzing
- ¼ cup Beef tallow
Brisket Burnt Ends Sauce
- 12 ounces Cola
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup Brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons Butter, unsalted
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoons Honey
- 1 pinch Your favorite beef seasoning
- Trim the brisket of the fat cap and much of the layer in between the point and the flat
- Apply mustard binder (mayo works well too) to the entire brisket
- Coat the brisket with the seasoning you prefer
- Prepare the smoker for a smoke session between 275F and 325F
- Place a water pan in the chamber and smoke wood on the fire (we used oak)
- Set the brisket in a double layer of disposable aluminum pans to make it easier to manipulate the brisket
- When the point and the flat hit the 160F-180F range, remove from the grill
- With a knife, follow the fat between the two parts of the packer and separate the flat from the point
- Place the flat on some foil and drizzle over some broth
- Fold the foil up to completely envelope the flat
- Place the point on butcher paper and add the wagyu beef tallow and wrap up like the tastiest Christmas present ever
- Place them both back on the smoker
- Remove the flat when it hits around 203F (ours was at 201F) and had been on the smoker a total of five hours at 300F
- When the point reads 190F-195F pull from the grill and carve into 1.5 inch cubes
- Place the cubes in a double layer of disposable aluminum pans and pour the sauce over with a drizzle of honey
- Put the brisket burnt ends back on the smoker until they are probe/toothpick tender (about 2 hours)
- Remove from the grill and serve, white bread optional but recommended