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Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends
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5 from 2 votes

Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends

There are few things more delectable than pork belly burnt ends. The mouth-watering flavor drips from each scrap of that delicious meat hot off the smoker. In general, there's hardly anything you can do to improve upon the basic nature of this dish and everything it does for us.

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pork Belly
Servings: 4
Calories: 300kcal

Equipment

  • Large plastic freezer bag
  • Large wire baking rack
  • Large metal sheet pan
  • Large aluminum baking pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Chunk charcoal
  • Apple wood chunks or chips.
  • Charcoal smoker

Ingredients

  • 1

    Skinless pork belly (~8 lbs)

  • 1/2

    Cup

    Dark brown sugar

  • 2

    Tablespoons

    Garlic powder

  • 2 Tablespoons Onion powder

  • 2 Tablespoons Sweet paprika

  • 1 Tablespoon Chili powder

  • 1

    Tablespoon Mustard powder

  • 1 Tablespoon Dried oregano

  • 1 Tablespoon Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

  • 10

    Tablespoons

    Butter

  • 1/4

    Cup

    Unfiltered honey

  • 1

    Cup Barbecue sauce of choice

  • 2

    Tablespoons

    Hot apple juice (more as needed to achieve proper consistency)

  • 1 Tablespoon Hot sauce

Instructions

  • Start things off by lightly chilling your pork belly in the freezer for around 10 minutes.

  • Chilling your pork belly like this makes the meat and fat firm up, letting you cut it more easily.

  • Don't let your pork belly freeze, though, as this defeats the purpose of the activity.

  • Your pork belly should already have the skim removed and fat trimmed up, but if it doesn't, you can do this easily yourself by cutting just below the skin layer slowly and evenly across the top of the belly, then cutting bits of fat off to shape the meat into a more consistent slab.

  • You can save anything you cut off as all-purpose cooking fat or for making crispy homemade pork rinds.

  • Once chilled and trimmed up, score the surface of both sides of the meat in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife only around a centimeter or so into it.

  • Then, cube the meat into around 1 inch chunks.

  • Both the scoring and cubing exposes more surface area on the meat, making for better flavor absorption when seasoned and better browning when smoked.

  • Once you've effectively cut up your pork, you can season it.

  • Thoroughly combine the garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, mustard powder, paprika, oregano, black pepper, and salt.

  • Once mixed, toss the cubed pork pieces with the spice rub, making sure to massage the ingredients into every crevice of the meat, including and especially the cuts you made earlier.

  • Transfer the meat into a large plastic bag and place them into the refrigerator for around 1 to 4 hours to absorb the flavor.

  • After you've chilled your pork, remove it from the fridge around 30 minutes before you intend to cook to give it the chance to warm to room temperature.

  • If you're using wood chips, now is also a good time to soak them in hot water.

  • As this is happening, head outside to prepare your smoker.

  • Fill the smoker up around halfway with charcoal before lighting and closing the lid.

  • You'll want to cook it using primarily indirect heat at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, so give the coals a chance to burn down a bit before proceeding.

  • Once the coals have thoroughly heated up, add some more plus the wood you're choosing to do.

  • Then add on the grate, fill the water tank, and close the lid.

  • This lets both the wood smoke and steam fill the cooker prior to actually introducing the meat.

  • Get back to your 250 degree area before you begin cooking.

  • With your smoker ready, it's finally time to start cooking.

  • Arrange the pork cubes in a single layer on top of a wire baking rack placed inside of a large metal sheet pan.

  • This ensures even air circulation and smoking on all sides of the meat, the tray helping to catch those valuable juices as they drip down during the long cooking process.

  • Transfer the arranged pan into the smoker, close the lid, and let the machine work its magic.

  • Given how small the meat is cut in this recipe, it should only take around 2 hours to fully cook with a dark crust on the meat.

  • Even so, it's still crucial to monitor the amount of water, wood, and charcoal in the smoker during this time, as well as adjust the air vents to keep the temperature as consistent as possible.

  • Once fully cooked like this, remove the meat from the smoker.

  • While this is some perfectly delicious pork belly, it is not yet burnt ends.

  • For that, you'll want to transfer both the meat and any collected juices from the pan underneath (deglazing with a splash of apple juice if necessary) into a large aluminum baking pan.

  • Toss the meat with brown sugar and honey, then dot the surface with butter almost like you were making a Brown Betty.

  • Cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil and return it to the heat, cooking for an additional 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours until fork tender.

  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir the contents before draining off the liquid, reserving around two tablespoons or so.

  • After that, mix up a cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, a tablespoon of hot sauce, and two tablespoons of apple juice that's been warmed, plus the reserved cooking liquid.

  • Stir together and add more juice or cooking liquid as needed until a thin, sticky, and glossy glaze forms.

  • Toss the meat chunks with the glaze before transferring them back to the baking rack and pan from before.

  • Place the meat back in the smoker one final time for around five to ten minutes until the glaze caramelizes, leaving the surface of the meat chunks shiny and dark.

  • After a short cooling time, you're finally ready to taste all those delicious smells from the past few hours.

Nutrition

Serving: 141g | Calories: 300kcal