The first time I ever had burnt ends was during a trip to Kansas City which is the 2nd best bbq region in the world. At the time I was at Arthur Bryant’s BBQ Restaurant and baptized there with some serious brisket burnt ends. Since I’ve had them in many of the other top spots in KC. Eventually I added them to my repertoire.
Recently I bought some pork belly to make homemade cured bacon (recipe coming but as of now its still in the curing stage). I had some extra pork belly so decided to use it as a replacement for brisket in my usual burnt ends recipe.
I don’t eat pork in large doses often, but when I do I go all in as was the case here. By all in I mean buying from local or nearby farmers who’s swine parenting skills are in line with mine. When it comes to swine treatment I’m a big softie. That stems from my childhood days when I worked wage free on my Uncle Bubba’s hog farm. Every Saturday morning Uncle Bubba would come down in the hood to pick my brother and I up and take us to his farm. My job was to “slop hogs” which was essentially walking through mud and transporting a “slop” bucket of vegetable scraps and food waste to a large trough. It was neither a clean nor pleasant smelling endeavor. The smell stuck to my clothes and afro for days. For a time the one bright spot was the fact that I got to know the pigs well enough to consider them family.
My youthful naivety prevented me from making the connection to the slabs of bacon, pig feet, and hot links we frequently had on the table at home. This all changed after I witnessed my first slaughter. I had known Big Scraps since he was little Big Scraps. Though he was two years my senior, I had a big hand in his development. Then with no warning the powers that be took my man out. I felt like Wilfred when Cornbread was killed in the movie “Cornbread, Earl and Me” or any real life friend of Jordan Edwards. Scraps died a gruesome death and then was gutted posthumously and allowed to bleed out with no dignity as all the staff called dibs on different body parts including the genitals. Yes I learned of “Rocky Mountain Oysters” at the early age of 6.
Needless to say my Saturday was ruined and eventually led me to playing football so that I could avoid backstabbing my friends. Later in high school I would give up swine for a brief period which necessitated a “family meeting” as my staunch Baptist grandparents feared the combination of my swine abstinance, short haircut, and Boogie Down Productions “By Any Means Necessary” album in heavy rotation meant I was on the verge on joining the Nation of Islam. Everybody exhaled when I resumed my weekly Saturday visits to Good Luck (hole in the wall burger and hot link joint) for a Link Basket. As I got older and began my culinary quest I started paying attention to where pigs were sourced, the conditions under which they were raised, and what they were fed. These factors all impact the taste and texture of the meat, but also give you a greater appreciation for the food you’re eating.
Pork Belly Burnt Ends
- 4 lb Pork Belly skin removed
- ½ cup Spice Rub buy or make your own
- 1 cup BBQ Sauce store bought or home made
Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 250 degrees. I use a combo of oak and apple wood
Remove heavy flap of fat from top of belly. Cube belly into 1 ½” x 1 ½” pieces.
Generously season all sides of the pork belly cubes with the rub.
Arrange cubes onto a full size cooling rack and place on smoking grate.
Smoke pork belly for 2 1/2 hours.
Place each Pork Belly Burnt End into an aluminum pan and cover with aluminum foil. Return to smoker for 1 1/2 hours.
Drain the liquid from the pan and add the BBQ Sauce to the burnt ends. Toss gently to coat each piece and return to the smoker to set the glaze for 20 minutes and serve.
Chipotle BBQ Sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 5 tablespoons dark brown brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon amchur powder optional
- 1 dried chipotle chile
- salt to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 1/2 hours
Amchur powder is an ingredient used in Indian desserts. It's actually ground dried mango. It's an optional twist here if you want to add a little tartness to the sauce. You will likely only find it in Indian markets.