Smokey, sweet, and amazingly tender, these bites of pork belly goodness are an awesome alternative to traditional brisket burnt ends. Imagine the amazing taste of bacon, but even juicier and covered in a combination of honey and your favorite BBQ sauce – these are truly meat candy! And the bite-sized pieces make this recipe a perfect finger food for any party or gameday get-together. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips
- You’ll (obviously) need some pork belly, and you’ll want the skin removed. I find it’s typically sold without the skin, but you can double-check with your butcher. And if you can only find it with the skin, no worries – it’s not too much trouble to remove it. Just make sure it’s off, as it won’t break down while cooking like the rest of the belly.
- These burnt ends are smoked, but you don’t need a fancy smoker to make them. You can set up a simple kettle charcoal grill like a smoker – here’s a guide. And I’m sure these would still be delicious even if you made them in an oven, but you would miss out on that deliciously smokey bark.
- A cookie cooling rack or similar wire rack makes this recipe a lot easier. The pieces are large enough that they won’t fall through grill grates, but removing them one-by-one off of a hot smoker is a pain.
- If you’re feeling inspired, get creative with your braising liquid and finishing sauce. Typically sweet stuff works nicely with pork, but I’ve seen a lot of pork belly recipes that use beer as a braising liquid. Here’s a recipe that incorporates sesame oil, soy sauce, and other Asian ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need to make pork belly burnt ends:
- ~5 pounds pork belly (without skin)
- 1/2 cup dry rub of your choice
For the Braise
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
For the Glaze
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Chop the pork belly into roughly 1.5″ square pieces and season liberally with your dry rub.
- Smoke uncovered at ~250° F for three hours, allowing a reddish bark to form.
- Remove pork belly pieces and place them on two layers of foil. Add apple juice and brown sugar and tightly wrap the foil.
- Cook in foil for an additional hour, until pork belly is very tender.
- Remove pieces from foil and toss them in barbecue sauce and honey.
- Finish by cooking uncovered for 20 minutes until sauce thickens and adheres nicely to the pieces.