I didn’t grow up in barbecue country. My earliest memories of barbecued ribs were from places like the Montgomery Inn, famous in Cincinnati for ribs. I don’t go there at all anymore, as their ribs are steamed and sauce-drowned. People in Cincy swear by them, but I choose other ribs. Pulled pork was done in a crock pot, and chicken was grilled at best.
Brisket was unknown to me in any form other than corned beef. Later, pastrami could be found in the area, but I had no clue what part of what animal this stuff came from. I take that back… I knew it wasn’t pork because the best places to get either were Jewish delis.
Then about three years ago, I found out what brisket really was. I lucked into it in a sense… I’d never had smoked brisket before making one myself. I used Steven Raichlen’s recipe from BBQ USA for Millionaire’s Brisket, supposedly based on a barbecue chain in Columbus, OH. And I got lucky. My first brisket wasn’t dried out and tough. I was hooked.
Since then, not only have I made brisket for competition, but I’ve used it for sandwiches and sit down meals, for barbecues and Christmas get-togethers. I’ve had it without sauce, with sauce, with horseradish and with bleu cheese. And I’ve liked every one of the ways I’ve had it to date. There’s something in the taste of a well-cooked barbecued brisket that says ‘Texas’.
On Labor Day, I smoked two good sized packer briskets. These include both muscles in the brisket, the flat and the point. They chugged along as they should, at about 250 degrees F all day long. There was a stint when they shared the smoker with a few racks of ribs, but that’s for another time. Around 7 pm, the briskets were done.
I love slicing into a brisket, finding that it’s moist and tender and has that smoky deliciousness to it! I decided to move away from Texas with my next step, though. I cut up the points from the briskets into cubes, put them into aluminum pans, added more rub and coated the cubes with sauce. Then they went back on the smoker for a couple of hours.
The result of these extra steps is straight out of Kansas City… Burnt Ends! When done right, the burnt ends will melt in your mouth. They become almost sublime barbecue… If you’re stuck on brisket being Texan, or whatever region you favor doesn’t do burnt ends, get over yourself and try some of this stuff… It could change your view of what makes good barbecue!
Some of my fellow only barbecuers have been making burnt ends lately, too. Neil at the Survival Gourmet made them this last weekend, too. Also, you’ll see some great burnt ends at Playing with Fire and Smoke. Adam recently made some good looking burnt ends at Men In Aprons, and The Hampton Smoker has a nice shot of some he made in the spring. Lastly, I found this post by Adolpho about inadvertently making some burnt ends recently… We all have things happen when we cook; some of us are brave enough to write about the mistakes!