Homemade Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Because they’re so darned good, I had to make some more home-smoked pork belly burnt ends on my  Traeger Texas Elite 34 pellet grill. Man I love those things — bite-sized nuggets just packed with flavor. And they are not too terribly hard to do either. This time around I bought a 4.2lb all-natural slab of pork belly from my local HEB. The skin was already off so I just did a light trimming and then I cut them into full 1″ cubes. Last time I cut them into 3/4″ cubes from a 3lb slab, and pretty much ran out of room on the wire rack. So the 1″ cubing definitely worked better. The space was still tight on the wire rack, but this time I was fitting over a pound more of meat. So I think that 1″ is a good size from here on out. It makes the bites a little bigger, so maybe a bit more difficult to eat. But it’s worth it. Once the pork belly was all cubed up, it went into a big bowl where I added in my standard pork butt rub. I made sure that the pieces were coated well on all sides, and then I stacked them all on the wire rack. Then on the pit they went. I am really liking the B&B Championship Blend pellets, so that’s what I used this time around. The pit was set to 250°F. For those who care about the extra details, the outside temperature that day was ~60°F and 80-85% humidity. I spritzed them with just water at the end of the first and second hours. And then about 2½ hours in started checking internal temperature with my ThermaPen Mk4. Man, I love that thing! The bigger nuggets were sitting at ~170-180°F, so I let them go another 30 minutes. At three hours in I checked them again and they were all up at the internal temperature I was shooting for of ~200-205°F. I know they don’t have to be cooked that long, but I really do like mine really-well rendered. I pulled them off the pit and threw them in an aluminum pan. I mixed together some of my favorite spicy barbecue sauce, from a local barbecue joint called 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ, and some Crystal Hot Sauce for some extra kick. They got coated with this mixture and then the pan went back on the pit for 30 minutes. I gave them a quick stir to make sure they were all getting a good coating and then let them go another 30 minutes to let the sugars in the sauce caramelize a little bit more and to let the sauce to tighten up. After that time I pulled them and let them cool off a bit. The color was beautiful. Then smell was killing me. So it quickly became munching time. Man these things are sooooo tasty. Once again the result was a big ol’ pile of meat candy – some very tender and delicious nuggets of bacon burnt ends.

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