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Pascal Motafferi

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Burnt Ends In No Time

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Smoked Burnt Ends have become one of the most sought after BBQ delicacies in recent years.

Made from the same cut as bacon, these meat cubes are best known as “adult candy” for a reason. 

They’re the perfect mix of fatty, savory and sweet in a single bite. It’s very easy to get hooked on these.

If you never had burnt ends before, think of them as eating small and tasty meat pillows, rubbed, smoked and tossed in sauce for a very interesting texture. They make for the perfect appetizer, but can also be used in sandwiches or tortillas as primary filling. Either way, their indulgent meals to have cravings for.

Traditional smoked pork burnt ends are fairly easy to pull off, provided you got time to spare.

Trim down a full pork belly and cube it into 1/1.5 inch cubes. Generously sprinkle your favorite pork rub on all sides and smoke them low and slow at 250F for a few hours. You can spray them down every hour with a sugary liquid to boost caramelization.

Once they hit the 205F mark, let them rest for 15 minutes, throw them in a pan with bbq sauce and set them back on the BBQ for another hour until the sauce thickens and your burnt ends are dark and sticky.

This process takes between 4 to 5 hours. This means that, sadly, burnt ends usually take preparation.

What if I told you that there’s a method that can give you 90% of the same result, in half the time?

I will be honest, this technique came about through 50% experimentation, 50% mistake. To put it blankly, we didn’t mean to do that at first. But the result, of what was initially expected to be a disaster, blew our minds!

 

The preparation

Just like the traditional approach, trim down a full pork belly and cube it into 1/1.5 inch cubes. Add a first layer of Butcher BBQ Honey rub, then a coat of HOBE Sweet Kansas rub. Let these sit for 15 minutes so that the rubs draw moisture out of the cubes and really stick tight.

We have been using Weber’s Mastertouch in combination with the All-In-One for our experiment. Our charcoal BBQ was running at 375 with charcoal on the sides, leaving an indirect zone in the middle. Add a pan underneath your rotisserie with a little bit of water to add moisture to your kettle.

 

The cooking process

This is where everything changes and traditions are out the window.

Once your grill is up to temperature, toss your piggie cubes into a rotisserie grill basket and set it up on your rotisserie. While the original recipe calls for 3h over indirect at 250F, we will be doing 1.25 hours of continuous spins at 350F. 

This new spin on burnt ends focus on basting cubes in their own fat to develop a very pleasant color and texture. By spinning on themselves, these cubes will maximize the use of their own fat, making sure we’re not wasting any of that good bacon flavor.

Before closing the lid, you can also add a chunk of cherry to your kettle. Cherry and/or pecan are a good complement to the Sweet Kansas rub. Make sure your pan is aligned with your basket to catch all of the drippings as this will be recycled for the second cooking step.

After 75 minutes, check your cubes. You’re looking for cubes with still a little bounce to the touch, dark red and with nice goldened edges. They may start to look like fried cubes at this point and that’s perfectly fine. Using a thermometer, they should be somewhere near the 160 to 175F mark. If need be, let them spin for an extra 15 minutes.

Whenever you feel like the time is right for your cubes to be sauced and foiled, pull the pan out from your BBQ. 

Recycling the fat drippings, add your cubes in the pan and cover them with your favorite BBQ sauce. We like to use HOBE’s Sweet Dream BBQ sauce as it adds a nice sweet and sticky side to the burnt ends. Gently toss your cubes in the mix to make sure they are all covered with sauce.

Cover the pan with a layer of aluminum foil and put the pan back in the BBQ at 350 for 30, remove the foil and let  cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Your burnt ends should be glossy, pillowy and with little to no resistance. Just bite-sized pieces of heaven

Remove from the BBQ those should be ready to serve.

If for some reason you have leftovers, know that these will be just as good as fresh out if you reheat them in your oven or bbq.

There you go my friends, burnt ends in roughly 2 hours. All you have to do now is discipline yourself as they may just become your next addiction

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