One of my favorite pork dishes besides bacon, ”Pork Belly Burnt Ends ” I love these things.
When making something like pork burnt ends. This cut will come in many sizes, from small strips to a full slab (10+ lbs). Make sure when you buy it, you ask the butcher for the skin to be trimmed off (saves some weight when you have to pay by the pound!). And be sure you get enough to feed a crowd, because they will be coming back for seconds, and thirds. I like to get at least 3 lbs as it gives me enough to get good size bites. When we cater we think 5 ounces of meat per person for a serving, so you roughly get three servings per pound. What we have here in this picture is 5 lbs.
If you still see skin on the belly, or there is a little extra fat, trim that off. Then cut the meat into 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes. You will get some shrinkage from the cooking process, so don’t be afraid if at first the cubes seem a bit large. After cooking they will shrink down to the perfect sized bite.
Next apply a little olive oil (enough to coat the meat) and your favorite dry rub on the cubes . Be generous (we use about 1 cup of dry rub for 5 lbs of meat. Feel free to adjust the amount based off your portion size). Because there is so much fat in the belly, I don’t bother with a brine in advance.
Really we want to smoke first for that flavor and bark, and then we want to braise it in some sauce to get even more flavor and moisture into the meat. To accomplish this, we will cook on a rack of some kind, as it is easier to lift off larger numbers of those cubes.
Smoke for three hours at 225-250 degrees or until you like the color of the meat.(I Use my Green Mountain Davey Crockett Pellet grill) A nice bark will form starting around the three hour mark. This can take longer based on so many factors like wind and how much bark you like. The key is, once you put into the braising liquid, your bark is done forming.
Next, add the cubes to a pan (I like a heat-proof disposable pan). Into the pan add the braising liquid. We use BBQ sauce to really add that extra flavor (about 1 cup), 3-4 tablespoons of butter, which adds richness and acts as a fatty binding agent for bringing the sauce and honey together, and then 2 tablespoons of honey to bring a stickiness and sweet characteristic. Then mix them all together.
Then cover and braise in smoker for another 60 – 90 minutes. You will find that the liquid braises at or near a boil and that the fat renders down in the burnt ends keeping the pan moist. Again, you have added additional fat in the butter, the honey as a binder and the sauce for flavor to really render out the fat that is in the pork belly.
Finally, remove the foil pan cover and cook for another 15 minutes to let the heat tack up that sauce, as you would with ribs or other sauced meats. Remove and eat. It’s that simple. And that delicious!
For the Pork Belly Burnt Ends:
• 5 lbs pork belly, sliced into cubes
• 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup dry rub
For the Sauce:
• 1 cup favorite BBQ sauce,
• 3 tblsp unsalted butter
• 2 tbsp honey