When we arrived at our first (of many) barbeque places, I saw "burnt ends" on the menu. Burnt ends? What
are those? At the time we were there, I wasn't a food blogger, so I didn't take pictures of the big brick ovens, with the iron doors that opened up-- to reveal more brisket than I've ever seen in one place!
I do appreciate a good brisket, and we have learned how to make one at home that is as good (if not even better) than some of the brisket we've eaten at BBQ places (other than in Kansas City). So, when I spotted Cook's Country's recipe on how to make Burnt Ends in your own home, I was determined to try making our own. Granted, we don't have a professional size smoker, but there is a way. Here's how Cook's Country adapted making Burnt Ends their way:
Real burnt ends are all about moist meat and plenty of flavorful, charred bark, but most pit masters use the fatty point-cut brisket. To make the leaner (and more widely available) flat-cut brisket work, we cut it into strips and brine it for maximum moisture and flavor. Three hours of smoke on the grill—with a water pan for more moisture—followed by a few more hours in a low oven ensures fully tender brisket with plenty of char. We cut the meat into cubes before tossing it with a flavorful, homemade sauce.
We begin with a two-hour brine of water and sugar. The rub was very quick to make: brown sugar, pepper and salt. Rub-a-dub-dub.
We own both a gas grill and a Weber grill. For slow cooking/barbecue, we mutually agree that charcoal is the way to go (oak wood, is even better, but we don't own that fancy of a grill). My handsome grill master, Craig, has prepared coals on one side of the grill, and wrapped a foil packet of wood chips that have been soaked in water for 15 minutes. (He has also cut holes in the foil). He has placed a foil pan, filled with water on the opposite side of the grill.
So, let's see... it's been eight hours and we're down to the home stretch. We are now going to make an easy homemade barbecue sauce. Ready?
But, wait! The defatted juices from the roasted brisket is added to the mix. (I had to add some beef broth to equal 1/2 cup).
At last! I can finally cut into the brisket.
It looks good...but it's about to get even better.
Toss those burnt ends with that delicious barbecue sauce, and enjoy!
TASTING NOTES: Let's be honest, here. There is nothing like authentic slow-cooked Kansas City brisket and/or burnt ends. However, these come second-best, and that's a very good thing. There is plenty of smoky flavor, for sure. There were some crispy ends. The sauce! Now, that sauce recipe is about as easy and good as it gets! I have some leftover, that is on reserve for some more grilling this week. It's absolutely divine, and would be great on ribs, too.
You have to start on this early. You could brine the beef a day ahead to save a couple of hours. This is the kind of recipe you want to make on a day when you plan to be home all day long. Was it worth it? Yes! It's not a lot of hard work, and the time intensive part is the waiting. I'll be making this for our next gathering of friends and family-- and will definitely use a five-pound piece of brisket.
Once again-- the family of Cook's Illustrated/Cook's Country and America's Test Kitchen hasn't disappointed us one bit.
As always, there is a printable recipe at the end of this post. Just scroll down to the very end...and you should see it. If you don't, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org