Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends Like They Do ‘Em in Kansas
June 27, 2023
Pork belly burnt ends are not your run-of-the-mill pork chop. These burnt ends come straight out of Kansas City BBQ joints. To make them, throw some cubed belly pork on the grill until they soak up smoke and the internal temp registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, we move the smoked pork belly burnt ends into an aluminum pan, slather them in butter and BBQ sauce, and cover them for more grill action.
I’ve been around the BBQ block for a while. From brisket to pork butt and even pork belly, I’ve cooked it all. Remember that delicious pork butt burnt ends recipe I shared with you the last time? Well, today, we’re going to take it up a notch and recreate that BBQ magic with pork belly but in the traditional Kansas style.
So, grab your grill, and let’s get cooking! I will walk you through the quick version, as well as an elaboration for those who like to go all out. Let’s do this!
To make pork belly burnt ends, start by setting up the grill for indirect cooking at 250°F.
Cut pork belly to cubes and toss in a little olive oil. Coat with BBQ dry rub.
Grill the seasoned pork belly cubes for four to five hours at 250°F.
Transfer the smoked pork belly burnt ends to a disposable aluminum pan. Add butter and BBQ sauce, and stir to coat.
Cover the aluminum pan with foil. Grill the smoked pork belly burnt ends for another 90 minutes or when it reaches 195 to 205 degrees.
Remove the foil, and grill the pork belly uncovered for 15 more minutes.
Let them cool briefly, then serve and enjoy!
What Are Pork Belly Burnt Ends?
Remember brisket burnt ends or pork butt burnt ends? Well, these are made with pork belly instead.
This is how pork belly burnt ends work…
You take a juicy belly pork, cut it into cubes, and throw them on the grill. Cook pork belly cubes uncovered until they’re golden and smoky.
Then, transfer them to a foil pan, drench them in BBQ sauce and butter, and cover them up. Back on the grill, they go, letting all that BBQ sauce soak in.
The result? Fork-tender meat like pulled pork. Pure BBQ magic!
And the best part? You can enjoy them any way you like. Eat them, toss them in sandwiches, or pile them on top of loaded potatoes. Burnt ends will be the star of any BBQ feast.
How to Prepare the Grill?
Next, I’ll walk you through the steps of preparing your grill for those smoked pork belly burnt ends:
Clean the grill: First, give your grill a good cleaning. Get rid of any gunk or ash left from previous cookouts. Grab a grill brush and scrub those grates until they shine. Don’t forget to clean the inside of the grill, too, including the firebox or pellet hopper if you’re using a pellet grill.
Check the fuel: Next up, check your fuel situation. If you’re using a charcoal grill, ensure you have enough charcoal and lighter fluid or a chimney starter to get things fired up. For gas grills, take a quick peek at the propane or natural gas levels. And if you’re rocking a pellet grill, ensure you have a good supply of wood pellets in your chosen flavor.
Preheat the grill: Now, it’s time to get that grill heated up. Follow the instructions from the manufacturer to ignite the charcoal or preheat your gas or pellet grill. Aim for a low to medium heat setting of around 250°F (121°C) for that slow and steady cooking we’re after. Let the grill heat up for 10-15 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
Set up for indirect cooking: If you’re using a charcoal grill, it’s time to set up for indirect cooking. Create a two-zone cooking chamber by piling the coals on one side of the grill. This way, you’ll have direct heat on one side and indirect heat on the other, perfect for cooking your pork belly cubes. You can also use a heat deflector to create an indirect cooking zone if you use a Kamado grill. For gas or pellet grill folks, set the temperature to the level recommended for indirect cooking.
Add smoking wood (optional): For some extra smoky flavor, you can add soaked wood chips or chunks directly onto the charcoal. I like to use applewood chunks or any fruit wood to smoke pork belly burnt ends. This helps with that true meat candy taste. If you’re using a gas or pellet grill, consider using a smoker box or a pellet tube to get that delicious flavor. Choose wood varieties like apple, cherry, hickory, or mesquite to complement your pork.
Close the lid and stabilize the temperature: It’s time to get things rolling! Close the lid of the grill and make sure the vents or temperature controls are adjusted to maintain a steady temperature. Let the grill stabilize at the desired cooking temperature before you start cooking those pork belly burnt ends.
How to Prepare Pork Belly for Burnt Ends Recipe?
Start by selecting a high-quality pork belly slab from your local butcher or grocery store. Look for a slab with an even fat distribution and a good amount of marbling for optimal flavor and tenderness.
Then rinse the pork belly under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. This step helps remove any excess moisture from the surface.
Trim the pork belly if needed. You’ll need to remove the skin if you get a pork slab with the belly rind on. Remove any loose or excessive fat, but leave a thin layer intact to ensure flavor and moisture during the cooking process.
Cut the pork belly into evenly sized cubes, about 1 to 1.5 inches. This uniformity ensures that the cubed pork belly cooks evenly and produces consistent results.
How to Cook Pork Belly Cubes?
Preheat your grill to heat setting or around 250°F (121°C) for low and slow or indirect heat cooking. Make sure the grill is clean and adequately prepped, as we discussed in the pork belly recipe earlier.
While your grill warms up, season up the pork belly with a good pork belly BBQ rub. You can also whip up your own smoked pork belly burnt ends dry rub. You can make some by mixing together brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Place the cubed pork belly directly on the grill grates or wire rack. If you prefer, you can use a grill basket or skewers to keep the cubed pork belly together for easy flipping.
Cook the cubed pork belly uncovered, allowing them to develop a nice crust on all sides. This step helps lock in the juices and adds a delicious smoky flavor.
If you notice the meats are starting to dry out, spritz them with some apple juice or apple cider vinegar
Check the internal temperature of the pork belly burnt ends with your trusty meat thermometer. Once it reaches 165 degrees, it’s time to continue cooking the pork belly burnt ends in a covered disposable pan.
After the first smoking session, transfer the pork belly cubes to a foil pan or a disposable aluminum foil tray. Add your favorite BBQ sauce and a few pats of butter to the pan, just as I mentioned in the recipe. You may also want to add some pinch of brown sugar to the pork belly burnt ends. This will help to thicken the sauce and improve the sweetness. Then mix everything and ensure the cubes are evenly coated.
Cover the foil pan holding the pork belly burnt ends with aluminum foil to create a sealed environment. This helps trap the moisture and flavors while the pork belly burnt ends continue cooking.
Place the disposable pan with the smoked pork belly burnt ends back on the grill and cook for 1 to 2 hours or until the pork belly cubes are tender and caramelized. Keep an eye on the temperature and adjust the heat to maintain a consistent cooking environment.
Once the smoked pork belly burnt ends are done, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes. This resting period allows the juices in the smoked pork belly burnt ends to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and succulent bite.
And there you have it! Your perfectly smoked pork belly burnt ends. You may watch the YouTube video below to see how the pork belly burnt ends are done step-by-step:
Nutrition Calories in Pork Belly
Wondering how healthy pork belly burnt ends are? Here’s a table highlighting the important nutritional facts on a 100-gram pork belly slab:
As you can see from the nutrition facts above, in a 100g serving of pork belly, there are approximately 518 calories. Most calories come from fat, with 53.01g per serving accounting for 76% of the total content.
Saturated fat contributes significantly, making up 19.33g or 97% of the fat content. It also has some monounsaturated fat at 24.7g and polyunsaturated fat at 5.65g.
Carbs, sugar, and fiber? Nope, not a trace. But watch out for the fat content. Pork belly is pretty fatty, especially when it comes to saturated fat. So it’s not the healthiest choice if you watch your fat intake. But hey, a little indulgence now and then won’t hurt. Just remember to keep it in check and balance it out with healthier choices.
What Cut of Meat is Best for Pork Burnt Ends?
The best cut of meat for pork burnt ends is pork belly or brisket meat. Pork belly is particularly well-suited for pork burnt ends due to its high-fat content, which renders during the cooking process and infuses the meat with rich flavor and tenderness. Brisket meat, precisely the point cut, is traditionally used to make burnt ends – that is the classic brisket burnt ends. The marbling and connective tissues in brisket contribute to the juiciness and melt-in-your-mouth texture of the final dish.
Which Type of Grill Works Best?
When making epic burnt ends, the type of grill you choose really matters. Now, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But the grills that best get the job done include:
Kamado Grills, for me, are the ultimate grills for making burnt ends.
Grills like the Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe Classic are versatile ceramic beasts. They are the best for indirect zone cooking, as most come with heat-deflecting plates. So, they hold heat like nobody’s business. Plus, you’ll have total control over the temperature. And when it comes to smoking pork belly burnt ends, precise temperature control is the name of the game. Also, the way these grills handle airflow is excellent. You’ll get that caramelized crust and smoky flavor that’ll make your taste buds sing.
Next up, we got the Offset Smoker. Pitmasters go wild for this classic choice. What makes it special for pork belly burnt ends?
I think that’s mainly because it’s got a separate firebox and cooking chamber. So you can cook those belly pork cubes indirectly. That slow and steady heat gives you the tender, smoky goodness essential for killer burnt ends.
And when it comes to whipping up some killer burnt ends, I’ve got a top pick for you – the Oklahoma Joe's Highland Offset Smoker. With its separate firebox and cooking chamber, it gives you that sweet indirect heat you need for that slow and smoky goodness.
Pellet grills make use of wood pellets as fuel which adds flavor to the meat. So, if you really want to make BBQ meat candy with your pork belly cuts, using a pellet grill helps take the taste up a notch.
You can choose from various wood pellets flavors like hickory, mesquite, cherry, or applewood to give your burnt ends a unique and delicious twist.
But that’s not all! One of the best things about pellet grills like the Traeger Pellet Grill is their consistent heat source. Once you set the temperature, you can kick back and relax. No need to constantly babysit the grill. The pellet grill takes care of business, maintaining a steady temperature throughout the cooking process.
Smoked pork belly burnt ends are a delectable barbecue dish with a unique twist on traditional burnt ends. The cubes of pork belly, seasoned with a flavorful rub, are slow-smoked to perfection, resulting in tender, caramelized bites with a crispy exterior. The combination of the wood smoke flavors, rendered fat, and savory BBQ sauce creates a genuinely irresistible taste experience.
Whether you choose to grill them on an offset smoker, a Kamado grill, or a pellet grill, the key is to maintain a steady and low temperature and provide consistent smoke for optimal results.
So, fire up your grill and enjoy the process.
By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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