BURNT ENDS Challenge
The Summer of Burnt Ends! Brisket and Pork Belly Burnt Ends
This month, we’re talking burnt ends — brisket and pork!
Let’s start with the brisket burnt ends. When I make burnt ends, I start with a whole beef packer. I like to trim it myself and normally start by trimming away the hard fat on the skin side of the packer. That top layer can be tough. Once the hard fat is cut, you want to trim the soft fat layer — but not all of it. You want to leave about a quarter of an inch behind. Fat is flavor, and you’ll want this during cooking and for the final product! As you prep the meat after trimming the fat, you can separate the point from the flat. Look at the grain and see where it leads to the fat layer on the point. Run a fillet knife over the fat line until you get from the point to the flat. This will help you get roughly the same thickness all the way back to create one big, flat portion. Once you pull back on the point, you should see more fat and you may also see some connective tissue. You can cut this out. Then, you’re ready to get going! Once your meat is prepped, get your smoker or grill ready. When I’m getting ready to smoke brisket and burnt ends, I go for a pecan or cherry wood. These earthy kinds of wood go well with brisket, which already has a mild, earthy flavor. With your wood picked out, bring your smoker up to 220 F. There are different temperatures to keep in mind. When the brisket reaches an internal temp of 170–185 F, take it out of the smoker. At this point, you can cube it up (about 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes). Place the cubes back on the grates for about 45–60 minutes longer to let some of the fat render. This is when you’ll want to keep a close eye on it. You can also take your brisket up to 190 F — that is, if you didn’t cube it or only cubed part of it. Anything you didn’t cube, well, you take that the rest of the way to 190 F, which is the perfect finishing temp for slicing.
can also add some sauce (not too much!) for some extra caramelization — or you can hold the sauce for the end and use it for dipping (or both). It’s up to you. You want to bring the burnt ends up to 200 F. Pull ’em and serve ’em! This approach to burnt ends has never failed me, and the end result is fall-apart, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Now, pork belly burnt ends are a little different when it comes to smoking. If you’re new to burnt ends, pork belly can be the way to go. Pork belly tends to be more forgiving than brisket, and it’s a little easier to work with. You can even ask your butcher to cube up some pork belly to practice on. Of course, both pork belly and brisket can be forgiving if you don’t walk away from the smoker!
Coming back to the burnt ends, when you see the edges of the cubes crisping up, take them off the grate and place them in a foil pan. You
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