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Old Arthurs’s Pork Belly Burnt Ends

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This recipe appears in the book Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue. It comes courtesy of the Old Arthur Barbecue Sauce Company which currently sells a number of barbecue sauce and spice rubs product based on recipes of Old Arthur Watts who learned to barbecue while enslaved. If these products are unavailable in your area, you may order them online, or substitute with your favorite sauce and rub. Pork belly burnt ends are a riff on the traditional burnt ends made from beef brisket. This recipe calls for a three-step process that candies the pork belly by smoking, rendering, and then adding barbecue sauce at the end of the smoking process.


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Old Arthurs’s Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup Old Arthur's Smokestack Dry Rub, or your favorite dry rub
  • 1 stick butter, sliced into pats
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 20 ounces Old Arthur's Barbecue Sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup apple, or fig jam

Recipe Steps

1: Place pork belly into a large mixing bowl.

2: Sprinkle approximately half of the dry rub into the bowl with the pork belly, and then toss vigorously with hands to thoroughly coat each piece.

3: Bring your smoker to an internal temp of approximately 235°. Use your favorite fruitwood, or hardwood to create the desired smoke once you have achieved desired smoker temp.

4: Arrange seasoned pork belly pieces evenly on a wire mesh baking tray. Take care to space the pork belly pieces so that they do not touch one another Place tray into smoker. Smoke the pork belly pieces for 3 ½ hours at a temperature range between 235° and 250°. If you have not already done so, add your wood pieces to the fire so that you are now producing smoke.

5: After approximately 3 1/2 hours, remove the tray from the smoker.

6: Using your hands (gloved), carefully transfer each cube from the tray, into an aluminum foil pan. Arrange pieces so that they are uniformly level in the pan.

7: Distribute the brown sugar, butter, honey, jam, apple juice, the remaining dry rub, and 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce.

8: Cover and seal the pan with aluminum foil. Return the pan to the heat of the smoker. Allow it to stay inside for 2 more hours at a target temperature of 250°.

9: After two hours is up, remove the pan from the smoker. Carefully remove foil lid, and then carefully transfer the individual pieces from this braising liquid, and into a new, clean foil pan. Discard the old pan and fluid.

10: Use the remaining barbecue sauce to drizzle over these cubes once you have them transferred.

11: Place this new pan and cubes ( no lid) back into the heat of your smoker for approximately 15-20 more minutes to let the sauce get a little “tacky”, but don’t leave in too long, or you will sacrifice that “rendered” texture which you have worked so hard to achieve!

12: Remove from smoker and enjoy!