Monday, December 27, 2021

Pork Belly BBQ Bites (aka Pork Belly Burnt Ends)

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Pork Belly Bites are a luscious smoky treat. They are cubes of pork belly seasoned, smoked, braised, and sauced. They are delicious and can be served just the way they are. But they are also exceptional in ramen or in BLT cocktail skewers.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites

This particular recipe comes from my second book. In that book, I address the controversy of whether or not these delicious, wiggly nuggets of pork should be called "pork belly burnt ends."

I don't take offense to someone using the term "pork belly burnt ends". Yeah, it's not the same thing as "burnt ends" but neither are today's "burnt ends". The original burnt ends were the end scraps and bits that were cut off of the brisket during slicing. Kansas City is the home of burnt ends and in an article in 2013, the Kansas City Star mourned the passing of burnt ends.  That's because burnt ends today use the entire brisket point cut into cubes and often doused in sauce and are just an interpretation of the original. -The Offset Smoker Cookbook (Ulysses Press 2019)

So you can call these delicious pork pillows pork belly burnt ends if you like, as far as I'm concerned. Here's how I made this batch of Pork Belly BBQ. Bites.

Slicing a slab of bacon to make Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites
I started with a 10.5 skin-off pork belly. I needed 7 pounds to cure for my Sorghum-Bourbon Bacon recipe, so I used the remaining 3+ pounds for Pork Belly BBQ Bites. That knife is a Victorinox Cimeter, [Amazon Affiliate link], which is relatively inexpressive, easy to maintain a sharp edge, and is excellent for breaking down large sub-primals. 

sliced slab of bacon for Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites
Nice pork belly cross-section, right? 

How I make Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites
I sliced the pork belly into 1" slices and then cut them to about 1" cubes.

Flavor Anonymous' Notorious R.E.D. is a serious rub for pork ribs, pork butts, and pork bellies.
Here's where I deviated from the book. Instead of using my N.M.T. Southern Sweet rub recipe, I used Flavor Anonymous's Notorious R.E.D. - one of my all-time favorite rubs for pork ribs, chops, and butts. It provides a balanced flavor of sweet, salty, fruity (apple), smoky, and heat. It also gives a knockout red tint. You really owe it to your pork if you haven't tried Notorious R.E.D.

How I make Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites
I put the pork belly bites on a sheet tray covered with foil and topped with a resting rack.

My collection of Oklahoma Joe's Smokers on the Pati-Joe.
It was an unseasonably warm day, so I decided to cook at our basement patio grilling area. It's also known as the Pati-Joe because all my cookers down here are Oklahoma Joe products. Today I used the Rider DLX pellet grill, but I also have the Longhorn Reverse-flow, Highland offset, Bronco drum smoker, The Judge charcoal grill/smoker, and The Rambler portable grill/smoker.

Making Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites on the Oklahoma Joe Rider DLX
I used Traeger Hickory Pellets that I bought at Elder's Ace Hardware for the smoke. We were also gifted a package of world-famous Benton's Bacon, so Alexis made some candied bacon while we had the pit fired up. 

smoking Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites on a pellet grill
I smoked the pork belly bites at 275f for about 3 hours, spritzing them with a mix of bourbon and quality apple juice about once an hour.

Candied bacon on the Oklahoma Joe's Smoker
Of course, the candied bacon was done much earlier.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites on the Oklahoma Joe's Rider DLX pellet smoker
Can't you just smell the porky goodness in this picture?

Next, I put the pork belly bites into 2 half-sized steam pans and filled them with ham stock until the liquid came up between 1/2 and 2/3 the height of the meat cubes. I covered those tightly and put them back in the cooker for 90 minutes and raised the temp to 300°f. 

Finally, I drained off the stock from the steam-pan and glazed the Pork Belly BBQ Bites with a glaze made of 4 parts Blues Hog Original bbq sauce and 1 part apple juice. I let them smoke one last time, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce was set.

Pork Belly Burnt Ends or Pork Belly BBQ Bites
Granted, I was ravenous by the time these were done, but I told Alexis that I think this is the best batch of Pork Belly BBQ Bites or pork belly burnt ends that I've ever made. They were perfect!

For the full detailed recipe, please check out my second book. It's written for offset smokers, but the recipes work on any grill or smoker.