PORK BELLY BURNT ENDS
Just the words “burnt ends” makes our mouth water. While the delicious treat is usually made from brisket point after many, many hours on the grill, if you are pressed for time but still want amazing flavor, pork belly is the way to go. These burnt ends are tender, full of flavor and best of all…easy to make!
For this recipe you’ll want to use a whole, uncut pork belly. Look for one with as much meat as possible. We prefer to remove the skin and trim any areas of pure fat. Cut the pork belly into 1 1/2″ – 2″ cubes – they may look big to start but they will turn into a perfect bite-sized morsel when cooked. Apply salt and seasonings. Though normally we recommend dry brining (applying salt the night before) the fat content of the pork belly is so high that the salt won’t penetrate sufficiently into the meat. Instead, we use salt as a flavor enhancer. Coat the cubes lightly with oil and then generously with your favorite rub.
Once the cubes are prepared, place them on an oven-safe, cooling and baking wire rack. This is a great way to easily get the cubes on and off the grill. Plus, the extra airflow ensures better smoke flavor and bark formation than placing them in a pan.
Set up your grill to cook at 225-250° F. Click here for low & slow/225 F lighting instructions for the Slow ‘N Sear. Make sure to add water to the reservoir to create a humid environment for enhanced smoke flavor. If you choose, now’s the time to add some wood chunks or chips. We like apple and cherry with this recipe, but feel free to experiment!
Cook the cubes 2 1/2 – 3 hours. For this step, we’re not cooking to a particular temperature but making sure we get a good bark. The burnt ends will continue to cook in the next step but there won’t be any additional bark formation.
At the ~2 1/2 hour mark, take the cubes off the grill and transfer them to an aluminum baking pan. To the pan add 1 cup of BBQ sauce (for flavor), 3-4 Tbsp butter (fatty binding agent), and 2 Tbsp honey (for sweetness). Gently toss the cubes in the braising liquid until fully coated. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place on the indirect side of the grill for 60-90 minutes. Cook until tender; if you’re using a digital thermometer your final temperature should be 200 – 205° F. Once cooked to your liking, remove the foil and give the cubes one last toss in the braising liquid. Allow them to cook another 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to set.
Remove the burnt ends from the grill and get ready to watch them disappear!