He had me at “burnt ends.”
"Burnt ends" are the ends of the cut that tend to over-char (not really “burnt”). They are so well loved, that lots of BBQ places barbecue small cuts, so it's all burnt. So, burnt ends are often not really the end pieces and not really burnt. But my, oh my, they are good. Charred, crunchy, ultra-caramelized, sweet and meaty. That's what we're looking for, so not surprise that a recipe for Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends was a must-try.
We loved this.
The first time I made it, the pork belly pieces were small and I overcooked it. It was still pretty good. Made some modifications and this time it was one of the best things I've ever made. Juicy, full of flavor, crisped and sweet on the outside, silky on the inside.
And yes, you can do this without a smoker. Obviously, you will miss the smoky flavors but it will still be magnificent.
The original was from Vindulge — go see the video and writeup. I made some minor changes in my version (in particular, I finish in the oven because once you're in a covered pan, the smoker doesn't add anything).
Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
Note: These are very rich. If you serve them as a main course, plate them in the kitchen (restaurant-style) and include a starchy side, such as smoked sweet potatoes. Or make them as an appetizer, by cutting them in half and serving with a toothpick or on a lettuce leaf.
For the Pork Belly Burnt Ends:
- 5 lbs. pork belly, sliced into cubes
- 1 cup dry rub, one with no salt and 50% brown sugar. I use Meathead's Memphis Dry Rub.
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the Sauce:
- 1 cup favorite BBQ sauce (I use Bullseye Original or KC Masterpiece Original)
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Preheat smoker to about 250 degrees. I use hickory for this.
Trim skin and excess fat off the pork belly and slice into 1 1/2-2 inch cubes and place into a large bowl. Add salt and toss; add dry rub, toss again.
Place cubes on a wire rack or directly on the smoker. Smoke uncovered for 2-3 hours. Look for a dark red color and a modest bark.
Remove the pork belly cubes from the smoker and place in a covered, oven-safe pot (e.g. a dutch oven). Add BBQ sauce, honey, pomegranate molasses, and stir. Cover the pot and place in a 275°F oven. Cook for an additional 90 minutes or until the internal temperature is 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes to let the sauce thicken up.
Drain any excess fat and serve, garnished with minced parsley and sesame seeds.