Pork Belly Burnt Ends

>> Sunday, May 28, 2017

I thought I'd post about a dish I made back on Mother's Day that everyone liked so much, I decided to make it again for a Memorial Day BBQ we're going to. If you're a fan of BBQ, you've probably had burnt ends, which comes from the fattier cut from the brisket point. Usually they're made by separating the point from the flat when the flats are cooked and good to go. The point is returned to the smoker and continues to cook to render more fat and to continue to break down the collagen. The bark continues to develop as well and you end up with a delicious cut of meat that is definitely different from the leaner flat of the brisket. This recipe is essentially a take on burnt ends style but using pork belly instead of brisket.

I stumbled across this recipe on Instagram. It was one of those "you may like" videos. Like I said, we gave it a try on Mother's Day along with some smoked chicken and ribs and this was by far the crowd favorite...we definitely liked. And as far as smoking meats go, it was a pretty easy process. Because of the high fat content, this is a forgiving meat to smoke. I want to point out, this stuff contains a lot of fat...a lot! It's probably something you should only make every once in awhile, and you should probably pair it with something healthier like a salad. As most people know, pork belly is where bacon comes from, so eating a half pound of this is essentially the same as eating a half pound of bacon. Ok, enough on the warnings.  

I found a couple recipes out there, but the one I followed was from Vindulge. It's documented very well with easy step-by-step instructions and it's worth checking out. The first time I made it, I used half a pork belly because I'm always cautious when trying out new recipes and I figured my health-conscious wife would rather eat the smoked chicken I made along with the pork belly. This time there's a larger group so I'm making a full belly. The first time I made it, I went with Weber's Chicken 'N Rib Seasoning. This rub used to be sold under the Durkee brand as Chicken 'N Rib Rub and is one of my favorite dry rubs. For this second batch, I decided to try Rufus Teague Spicy Meat Rub; not because I didn't like the Weber rub, just because I wanted to try a different rub. For the sauce I went with Famous Dave's Sweet and Zesty as it's always been a favorite of my wife. For smoking wood, I used a blend of hickory and apple wood.

Recipe and Process
  1. If your belly comes with skin on, trim it off along with any excess fat from the skin side. 
  2. Cut your pork belly up into 1.5-2" sized cubes.
  3. Season each piece with your rub making sure to coat all sides.
  4. Bring your smoker up to 230F.
  5. Lightly oil your smoker's grates to prevent sticking and arrange the cubes leaving space between them for the smoke to circulate (make sure they aren't touching).
  6. Smoke for about three hours at 230F.
  7. Transfer cubes to disposable aluminum pan.
  8. Add about 1 cup BBQ sauce, 2T honey and stir to mix and coat cubes.
  9. Add about half a stick of butter cut into squares.
  10. Cover with foil and return to smoker for another 60-90 minutes.
  11. Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the cubes are evenly coated.
  12. The sauce should have thickened a bit at this point, so remove from smoker and serve.
Before adding sauce