Brisket Burnt Ends: What They Are and How to Make Them
Who doesn't start drooling when there's a plate of crispy, juicy, and smokey burnt brisket ends sitting on the table? I've even converted a friend who was a vegetarian until we served these delicious morsels of tender and tasty beef – they are that good. While burnt ends were once Friday night specialties in Kansas City BBQ joints as a way to make a little money off parts that were otherwise just scraps, today you'll find people going miles out of their way specifically for a burnt end sandwich.
What Kind of Meat is Burnt Ends?
Burnt ends are from beef brisket. A whole brisket, called a packer brisket, can be divided into two parts, the flat and the point. Burnt ends are made from smoked and roasted cubes of the point. The brisket itself is part of the chest of the cow and includes the two main muscles in the pectorals. These are both fatty and stringy portions of muscles that do lots of work. Cooking a brisket the right way isn't for the faint of heart – this is a big piece of meat that takes lots of time to cook in order to get a tender and juicy meal.
Burnt Ends vs Rib Tips
Another popular snack is rib tips. The biggest difference between these totally different pieces of meat is that rib ends loose all of the delicious fat when they cook. Burnt ends absorb that flavor, so you're getting something that is juicy and crispy, not just burned scraps.
Why Are They Called Burnt Ends?
Contrary to the name, burnt ends aren't actually burnt. They're just cooked to a point where the bark is predominant, lending a fantastic crunchiness you won't find if you overcook a steak. Instead of a burnt flavor, what you get is an intense beefy flavor that is complemented by the sauce and cooking style used to make this treat. The best burnt beef ends start with good ingredients, like our famous Bearded Butchers BBQ sauce and a delicious first-cut brisket from Whitefeather Meats.
Burnt ends first came to popularity following a 1972 article in Playboy Magazine in which the author commented on how he dreams of "the burned edges of brisket, given away for free" at a popular Kansas City, MO restaurant while choking down a three-dollar hamburger that tastes like a burned sponge.
What Do Burnt Brisket Ends Taste Like?
Imagine for a moment that you just took a bite of tender and juicy smoked brisket. It's delicate, delicious, flavorful. Now, combine that with the robust flavor of the point, smother it in delicious sauce, then smoke it until the sauce is caramelized. Yeah, it's that good. Burnt ends don't taste burnt, they taste intensely smoked and crunchy.
How Do You Get the Black Crust on a Brisket?
The black crust, called bark, develops when you smoke a brisket. It comes from a combination of the spices and a chemical reaction that happens when the fat renders. It may seem tricky to get a great bark on your brisket, but if you check out some of our tips on smoking through our YouTube channel, you'll master smoking brisket and getting perfect bark in no time.
How Are Burnt Ends Made?
Making burnt ends is a slow process. It takes time to cook tough brisket meat to tender perfection, then more time to complete the additional steps to make ends. We will walk through the steps from trimming your brisket to seasoning, smoking, and the final steps to make those fantastically addictive brisket burnt ends you crave. This is an easy to follow recipe that will give you a great tasting, perfectly bark crusted brisket ideal for burnt ends.
Step 1: Trimming the Brisket
If you are starting with a whole packer brisket, you'll need to trim the cut down. The first step is to remove the fat from the top of the cut. Trim the bottom fat leaving one-quarter inch- this is for flavor and juiciness, so don't cut too much.
The next step is to identify the fat seam that separates the point and the flat. Using a sharp knife like our favorite Victorinox boning knife and a decent amount of hand strength, you can cut and pull the two sections apart by following the fat seam between them.
Step 2: Seasoning the Brisket
We are going to use one of our favorite and most popular seasonings today, Bearded Butchers Original Blend Seasoning. This one has just the right amount of heat, saltiness, and robust flavor to enhance the naturally strong flavor of brisket. We're going to use a lot of seasoning to fully coat the entire surface of the brisket, making sure to rub and pat the seasoning so that it sticks to the meat. We highly encourage you to try out our different seasonings to find your favorite. We even sell or seasonings in refillable buckets and you can now buy refill bags directly through our website. That way you don't have to worry about running out of seasoning before you make your favorite meals.
Step 3: Smoking the Brisket
We've got a really great video on our YouTube channel showing how we smoke a brisket. You should check it out if you want to see how we do it. For this recipe, we are going to use our favorite smoker, the Traeger Ironwood 885. This is an awesome smoker that lets us do some really amazing things. For this brisket, we are going to use the Traeger Signature Blend. It's a mix of hickory, cherry, and maple hardwoods that combine to provide the ideal flavor for beef, wild game, pork, and even fish and vegetables.
We're going to set the smoker to 250 degrees and place the brisket on the smoker. It will smoke until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees. This will take four to six hours depending on the size of your brisket. Remove the brisket, wrap it in foil, and place it in an empty ice chest to rest for about one hour. This allows the meat to relax and absorb the moisture that will escape if you cut it right away.
Step 4: Trimming Ends
Now that the brisket is rested, put it on a cutting board. Grab that Victorinox knife and cut the brisket into one-inch chunks. You should have a nice bark developing, and it's always fun to see how well the brisket has smoked.
Move the cut brisket pieces into a disposable aluminum pan. Add one-half cup of beef broth to the pan, then cover with aluminum foil. Put the pan on the grill and cook for one to one and a half hours until the broth has absorbed and reduced.
Remove the foil from the pan and add enough Bearded Butcher Blend Barbecue Sauce to fully coat the brisket ends. You can use as much or as little as you want, we usually use about one cup. Make sure to work the ends in the pan to completely coat them in sauce.
Back onto the grill they go for about an hour uncovered. You will want to keep an eye on the ends – when the BBQ sauce has caramelized and reduced, the burnt ends are ready to be taken off the grill. You'll want to let them rest for about 30 minutes before serving.
That's all there is to making fabulous Kansas City-style burnt ends at home. This is a delicious way to enjoy brisket, and it gives you a different take on how to cook this misunderstood piece of meat. Serve your ends on a crusty roll, or just grab a fork and a bowl of sauce.
Ingredients for Burnt Ends
- 1 whole packer brisket, or on brisket point
- Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning and Barbecue Sauce
Steps for Making Burnt Ends
- Trim brisket, remove point
- Dry rub seasoning on all sides
- Smoke until internal temperature is at least 170 degrees
- Wrap in foil and rest in an empty ice chest for at least one hour
- Slice brisket into one-inch chunks and place in a disposable pan
- Add one-half cup beef broth, cover, and cook for one and a half hours
- Remove from grill, uncover, and add barbecue sauce to fully coat the brisket ends
- Return to grill until sauce has caramelized, about one hour
- Rest burnt ends for half an hour after removing from the grill
Now that you know all about burnt brisket ends, you can make them at home easily. There are actually quite few ways to do it, we just prefer the classic way using the smoker. You can adapt our recipe to use your oven, barbecue, or whatever your favorite way to cook might be. Your friends and family will be blown away by the intense smokiness, the crispy, crunchy bark, and the tender and juicy deliciousness of each mouthful of burnt brisket ends you make.
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