Burnt ends are, strictly speaking, the extra-dark, chewy, extremely delicious ends of a barbecued beef brisket—not pork belly at all. But if you find burnt ends irresistible, then this recipe is for you. Slow-smoking chunks of spice-rubbed pork belly, then tossing them in a quick, not-too-sweet barbecue sauce and smoking them some more yields a crispy-chewy pile of pork that will win over the most passionate burnt-ends purist. Enjoy them with piles of white bread to sop up the sauce, along with tangy pickles and raw onion to cut through the richness.

Paige Grandjean

Gallery

Credit: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Kathleen Varner / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey

Recipe Summary

active:
40 mins
total:
4 hrs
Yield:
4 to 6
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Ingredients

Smoked Pork Belly
Barbecue Sauce
For Serving

Directions

Prepare the Smoked Pork Belly
  • Cut pork belly into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Toss together pork pieces and oil in a large bowl. Whisk together salt, chile powder, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar in a small bowl; sprinkle over pork, and rub into pork to coat. Arrange pork pieces, fat cap up, in a single layer on a wire rack that will fit inside your smoker or grill.

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  • Prepare smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions, bringing internal temperature to 250°F to 300°F; maintain temperature 15 to 20 minutes (if using a gas or charcoal grill, set up the grill for low indirect heat). Smoke pork on a wire rack, maintaining temperature inside smoker between 250°F and 300°F, until meat is almost tender, about 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the Barbecue Sauce
  • Stir together ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, chile powder, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne in a medium microwavable bowl until well combined. Microwave on HIGH until sauce bubbles and sugar is dissolved, 60 to 90 seconds. Set aside until ready to use.

  • Transfer pork to a 13-by-9-inch disposable aluminum pan; add 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and toss to coat. Reserve remaining barbecue sauce for serving. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, and return to smoker; continue to cook at 250°F to 300°F until meat is tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Remove foil cover from pan, and toss together pork and juices in pan. Continue smoking, uncovered, at 250°F to 300°F until meat is very tender and glaze starts to caramelize, 30 minutes to 1 hour more.

  • Serve pork belly burnt ends with remaining barbecue sauce, sliced white bread, pickles, sliced white onion, and pickled jalapeños.

Oven Method
  • Proceed with Step 1 as directed.

  • Preheat oven to 275°F. Place wire rack with pork belly on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven until meat is almost tender, about 2 hours, 30 minutes.

  • Proceed with Step 3 as directed.

  • Transfer pork to a 13-by-9-inch disposable aluminum pan; add 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar, and toss to coat. Reserve remaining barbecue sauce for serving. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven. Bake at 275°F until meat is tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Remove foil cover from pan, and toss together pork and juices in pan. Bake, uncovered, until meat is very tender and glaze starts to caramelize, 30 to 45 minutes.

  • Proceed with Step 6 as directed.

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