Who doesn’t love bacon? And who doesn’t love burnt ends? So when you put those two things together, oh my goodness what an incredible combination. Pork belly burnt ends, or bacon burnt ends are truly a delightful meat candy snack. Technically, you’d have to brine/cure the pork belly before you can legitimately make bacon burnt ends. So that’s why I call these pork belly burnt ends. Call them whatever you want – they are delicious nuggets of savory, chewy, flavorful meat and unctuous, lucious, fatty goodness! Pork belly burnt ends are not nearly as difficult to make as you might think. Here’s how I made these:
- I started with a 3 pound section of raw pork belly. I cut the entire thing into about 3/4″ cubes. I prefer using a granton-edge slicing knife – it just seems to make cutting long slices of meat (cooked or uncooked) easier.
- Once cubed, I seasoned them with my hand-blended pulled pork rub (I always prefer making my own rubs). You could use any rub you want, whether homemade or commercial rubs. However, if you use commercial rubs, I highly recommend everything from Meat Church out of Waxahachie, Texas (one my favorite Texas town names too – and by the way, their county courthouse is absolutely gorgeous. It was even mentioned in the James A. Michener book, Texas). I had to make sure that I got all six sides of the cubes covered in the rub. Some of them tried to hide from me.
- Once rubbed, I tightly packed all the cubes on a baking/cooling rack to make it easier to put them on and take them off the pit. Space got very tight so I had to get creative on getting them all on the rack. Next time I may cut my cubes just a little bigger to make it easier to get them to all fit on the baking rack. It definitely took some finagling to fit them all with the size I cut them this time around.
- Then it was time to put them on the pit. I used my Traeger Texas Elite 34 pellet grill, and used hickory wood pellets, with the temperature set to 250°F.
- After about 45 minutes, and every 30 minutes after that, I sprayed these amazing nuggets with an apple juice and water mixture. I know there are fancy spray bottles out there. But I really like my ZEP spray bottle. I’ve had issues with other cheap bottles – but this one has never given me any issues.
- Every time I spritzed them, I also checked the internal temperature with my Thermapen Mk4. At approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, they had hit 203°F. So I pulled them and brought them into the house.
- They came off the baking rack and went into a disposable aluminum pan. I mixed up a concoction of Whole Foods 365 Organic True Texas Barbecue Sauce, honey and Crystal Hot Sauce. And then I poured the mixture all over the nuggets, making sure that all pieces were completely coated.
- The pan then went back on the pit for another 30 minutes to tighten up the sauce on each of the burnt ends.
- I pulled them off one more time, stirred them around to get the remaining sauce off the bottom of the pan and onto the burnt ends. And then they stayed on the pit for another 20 minutes or so.
- When I pulled them off, I let them cool down in the kitchen for a little while. But I couldn’t wait for very long. They had such an incredible smell; and the dark mahogany color was just calling to me to come sample them.
The result of this process turned out absolutely amazing. The way the looked. The way they smelled. The way they tasted. The mouth feel. All of it was just awesome! I’m so glad that I made these pork belly burnt ends. I had contemplated making some more bacon. And at some point I’ll probably still make more cold-smoked bacon. But these burnt ends are something I can do any time of year.