Pork belly burnt ends, or as I like to call them “Meat Candy”.
This recipe takes an already delectable barbecue dish to the next level with a sticky, sweet sauce made from a combination of bbq sauce and hot honey for a spicy kick.
You can use honey or substitute agave nectar if you are looking for something a little less sweet.
What are pork belly burnt ends?
Pork belly burnt ends are a twist on classic Brisket Burnt Ends that have taken the barbecue world by storm over the last couple of years.
When it comes to the sauce, you can use any barbecue sauce that you like. I’ve even used a Mongolian sauce before to put a twist on them.
Choosing your pork belly
When you head to your local butcher, you want to look for a fresh, center-cut pork belly. Many butchers will offer it with the skin on, but I prefer to find pork belly with the skin removed if I can find it.
If you can find it with the skin removed, it makes the process a little easier.
The side of the pork belly should show distinct layers of fat and meat. Look for meat with a rich, reddish, or pink tone and try to find a slab with an abundant layer of meat breaking up the layers of fat.
Pork belly is best prepared when cooked low and slow. You want to give the fat a chance to render, so cooking it at low temperatures is the best bet. That is why this recipe is the perfect way to prepare a slab of pork belly.
You can also make bbq smoked pork belly by cooking it whole and slicing at the end like in this recipe.
How to make Hot Honey Pork Belly Burnt Ends
If your pork belly still has the skin attached, you want to remove that first.
To remove the skin, simply take a small, sharp knife and run it along the edge of the skin and the first layer of fat.
The first step to preparing Pork Belly Burnt Ends is to cut your pork belly into cubes. You want to aim for cubes that are even in size, about 1-1/2” thick.
Pork belly is a relatively soft meat, so you should be able to slice it into cubes easily.
Hold your knife firmly in your dominant hand, then place the other hand on the slab. Start at the edge and pull the knife towards you slowly to cut the slab into strips. Then take those strips and cut them in the other direction to create your cubes.
Pork does not have a lot of inherent flavor and the fat content makes pork belly very rich. It’s important to season every cube on all sides to impart maximum flavor.
You can use any barbecue rub that you like, but I recommend something that is made for pork. For this recipe, I used the PS Seasoning Hot Honey Bee Sting rub. It’s infused with honey and a kick of chipotle, making it the perfect rub for these hot honey pork belly burnt ends.
Once each cube is well-seasoned, lay them out on a jerky tray (or wire rack) and space them out about 2” apart on the rack. Place the cubes of pork belly with the fat cap facing down.
3. Fire up the smoker
As I mentioned before, pork belly is best prepared when cooked at a low temperature. It’s important to give the fat plenty of time to render during the cooking process.
For this recipe, I smoked the pork belly at 250°F on my Camp Chef Woodwind 24 pellet smoker. I used pecan wood pellets because I love the subtle flavor of pecan when I smoke pork.
By spacing the cubes out you ensure each cube gets that crispy outside crust.
Place the jerky tray on the grates of the smoker and let the pork belly smoke for about 2 hours, or until the internal temperature is up to about 175°F and a nice crust has formed on each cube.
I use my trusty Thermapen to check internal temps.
4. It’s all about the sauce
The thing that really makes these pork belly burnt ends taste like “meat candy” is the sticky, sweet sauce that they are coated in.
It’s a simple combination of barbecue sauce, butter, and honey that combines to create a delicious sauce that compliments the fattiness of the pork belly perfectly.
I wanted to put a hot honey twist on these burnt ends, so I used the PS Seasoning Hot Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce combined with a bit of melted butter and a generous dose of Mike’s Hot Honey.
Make sure each cube is well coated in the sauce.
Give that mixture a good mix in a small bowl until it’s well combined, then pull your pork belly off the smoker and dump the cubes into the sauce. Give the bowl a good shake then transfer them to an aluminum tray.
Cover the tray with aluminum foil and place it back on the smoker, still at 250°F for another 45 minutes.
After about 45 minutes have gone by, remove the foil from the top of the tray and let them continue to smoke for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 203°F.
When they reach an internal temperature of 203°F, they are ready to enjoy. Let them cool for a few minutes, but you don’t need to let them rest for very long.
The finishing touch is another drizzle of Hot Honey over the top and they’re ready to enjoy. You can serve them as an appetizer, or even serve them as a main dish alongside your favorite barbecue sides!