Pork Belly Burnt Ends with Barbecue Sauce

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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.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends with pickles and white bread
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Kathleen Varner / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
Yield:
4 to 6

Ingredients

Smoked Pork Belly

  • 3 pounds skinless pork belly, fat cap trimmed to 1/4-inch thickness

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • ¼ cup, plus 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, divided

Barbecue Sauce

  • ¾ cup ketchup

  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Serving

  • Sliced white bread

  • Pickles

  • Sliced white onion

  • Pickled whole jalapeños

Directions

Prepare the Smoked Pork Belly

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

Oven Method

  1. Proceed with Step 1 as directed.

  2. 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.

  3. Proceed with Step 3 as directed.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Proceed with Step 6 as directed.

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