Monday, September 6, 2010

Brisket Burnt End Sandwich - Burnt Ends - not what you think

I have this theory about the name, "Burnt Ends".  If a BBQ pitmaster takes the most unappealing part of a brisket (the fattier tougher "point"), and creates a way to not only make it edible, but actually the best meal from a brisket, the pitmaster wants to keep the good stuff to himself.

Thus was born the terrible, unappetizing name, BURNT ENDS!  And, for the record... Not burnt.

The common mis-perception is that burnt ends are the left overs from trimming a brisket.  The edges of a brisket are indeed more well done, with extra rub spices.  But that is not what traditional real burnt ends are.  To understand burnt ends, you have to understand the anatomy of a brisket.

Briskets are odd things.  They come with flats and points.  Flats are about half of a full size brisket, and they are the well, you guessed it, the flat half.  The point is actually a flat with a cap or small point on top of the flat.  there is a layer of fat between the point and the second flat.

Here is my point.  look close, and you can see the layer of fat between that second flat and the point.  In fact, once the brisket is cooked through, you can work your fingers between the flat and point and rip the point off by hand.  Very satisfying in a caveman sort of way.

When I smoke a brisket, I get three meals from it.  The flat is what most people think of when they hear brisket.  In fact, you can buy just the flat from a butcher.  That is where the sandwich meat comes from.  Slice it up nice and thin, with a little brown mustard and you are set.  The "second" flat, the flat under the point I dice up and freeze for brisket chili (that will be a post for another day, the first cold rainy day of fall (can't wait for miserable weather)).

The point I reserve for burnt ends.

BUT... again, a quick anatomy lesson...

The point has more fat content.  You can see that in this photo.  It needs extra time in the smoker to render that fat out to make it more tender and tasty.  Once you have cave man ripped the point from the second flat, put it back in the smoker, fat side down and cook at 225 for another 2 to 3 hours.  Internal temp will reach about 195 degrees.

And yes, after that extra time, the meat is dried out, and much different texture than the moist flat part.  So, now it is time to go to work to get it not just edible, but "the good parts", as seasoned BBQ pitmasters will tell you.

First, dice the meat into 1/2 inch squares.  Then drench them in BBQ sauce.  I used a combination of three equal parts... Ray's (a very good commercial sauce), with an equal amount of Cider Vinegar to thin the sauce and an equal amount of my home made Raspberry Chipotle Sauce for extra kick.

To get the meat well seasoned, and return it to tender, you need to simmer the squares in the sauce for about 20 minutes.  Keep stirring so it doesn't burn, and to coat all sides of r the cube sin the sauce.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and drain off some of the excess sauce, and you are ready to eat!  Sure, you can use the trimmings from the flats to add to more meat, but just the meat from the flat is considered true Burnt Ends.

Jackie likes hers with Firecracker Cole Slaw on the side...

Me, all in one, Cole Slaw, Burnt Ends all on a fresh baked roll...

Shhhhhhh... it's the best meal from a brisket, but don't spread it around, there really isn't mush meat in a point, only got 4 sandwiches from the meat.  Always sad when you run out.



  1. It's 6:45 am, I'm drinking a cup of coffee, and I WANT THAT SANDWICH! Look's amazing!

  2. I can't believe you wrote about anatomy MULTIPLE times in this post. Did my professors tell you that I am supposed to be studying instead of reading blogs? Hmmm.

    Usually when you can easily rip apart two pieces of flesh. I mean meat. Like that, it means that they are actually two completely different muscles.

    Damn that sandwich looks good.

  3. I'm sure glad you're back on the cul-de-sac and bbq-ing up some of your specialty meals. That sandwich looks amazing Dave.

  4. I found you through Karen's blog! Happy Labor Day! I don't eat this, but you made it look like something I have to have, like right now! And love the profile pic!

  5. I want that sandwich....right now! I knew you'd be grilling up good stuff for labor day!! I've never made brisket it my life, but I want to now!

  6. This post makes me sad that I know nothing about smoking meat, but it makes me really hungry to try those burned ends (I watch the Food Network, so I know you're telling the

  7. Wow I think you should have been hosting the BBQ. Look at that sandwich. My husband is watching me blog hop and salivating at this stop!

  8. Looks sooo good and I love the looks of that coleslaw, too! Great job, cher! And I agree with Karen, you are the perfect BBQ host!

  9. I'd pay a pretty penny for that sandwich (at least 5 bucks, I'm kinda cheap). Looks amazing!

  10. The sandwich looks good, but you and I both know that the best burnt ends come straight off the cutting board as you are working them up, trying to make sure you get your share before everyone else starts after them! Like you said, it's our secret, stay away from our burnt ends!