A savory and crisp batch of burnt ends is one the best reasons to smoke a whole beef brisket. But can you make burnt ends from brisket flat, or do you need the point end in order to pull it off?
Can You Make Burnt Ends From Brisket Flat?
Burnt ends are a staple of Kansas City barbecue. They’re usually made from the fattier point end of the brisket, but you can use the flat to make burnt ends in a pinch. That said, the meat is leaner, so you’ll have to compensate by making sure the brisket retains plenty of moisture throughout the process.
Brisket Flat vs. Point
A whole brisket can be separated into two smaller, or subprimal, cuts. These are called the flat, which usually makes up the bulk of the whole packer; and the point end.
When separated from the flat, the point has a ragged appearance and an irregular grain, which makes it hard to carve into slices. It’s also fattier than the flat end, with visible marbling throughout.
The flat end—also known as the first cut—is rectangular in shape, with a unidirectional grain and very little marbling. There should be a fat cap attached to one side, which provides moisture to the leaner meat.
A brisket flat should weigh around 6 to 10 pounds, with the point end weighing in at 4 to 7 pounds. Be aware that these are just guidelines—the actual cuts may be smaller or larger, depending on the size of the whole brisket.
About Burnt Ends
Burnt ends are a Kansas City specialty, but they can be found on barbecue menus all over the US.
Essentially, these delicacies are small cubes of brisket that have been smothered in barbecue sauce, then returned to the grill or smoker until they’re charred and crisp. They provide an excellent way to use up the slightly overcooked edges of the brisket.
It’s traditional to make burnt ends out of the point meat. The reasoning behind this is simple: The point end doesn’t carve up as neatly as the flat, so it’s a good idea to cut it into rough chunks instead.
Also, as we mentioned, the point is fattier than the flat. The high concentration of marbling means the meat can stand up to higher temperatures without drying out. Burnt ends usually go back on the smoker for at least an hour after reaching the optimum temp.
You can use burnt ends in a number of recipes. They’re delicious when speared on a toothpick and eaten alone, or tucked into a brioche roll for a barbecued beef sandwich. Many barbecue joints add burnt ends to their homemade baked beans for a savory kick.
Do You Make Burnt Ends On Purpose?
Sometimes, the edges of the brisket will achieve the slightly burnt and crispy texture on their own. If this happens, just chop the meat into cubes, glaze the meat with a bit of barbecue sauce, and return them to the smoker for 45 to 60 minutes.
Our preferred method is to smoke a whole packer brisket until it reaches the recommended temperature of 200 degrees. After about 30 minutes, we cube up the point end and make the burnt ends while the brisket flat rests a bit longer.
Some home chefs crave the taste of burnt ends above all else. If you fall into this category, you can cut the brisket into cubes before you’ve even added it to the smoker. We’ve included a recipe for “from-scratch” burnt ends below.
Can You Make Burnt Ends From Brisket Flat?
It’s easier to locate a brisket flat for sale than a whole packer, thanks mostly to the sheer size of the whole brisket. Finding the point alone is even trickier. What if you want to make burnt ends, but all you can find is the flat?
Technically, you can use the flat of the brisket to make burnt ends. The thing to remember is that the meat won’t be as juicy, since the flat end is leaner. That means you’ll have to take certain measures to keep the burnt ends from being too dry.
For starters, don’t skip the binder—also known as the “slather.” Coating the brisket flat in mustard or oil will help it retain moisture, in addition to giving the spices something to cling to.
Try smoking the brisket flat until it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees. At this point, take it off the heat, let it rest for about 15 minutes, then cut the meat into cubes.
Add the cubed meat to a disposable aluminum pan and mix the cubes with barbecue sauce, butter, and brown sugar. Cover the pan with foil and add it to the smoker. Allow the burnt ends to cook to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
We would also suggest using plenty of barbecue sauce when it’s time to serve the burnt ends. The sauce might not be able to restore moisture to the meat itself, but it can mask a drier texture in a pinch.
Brisket Flat Burnt Ends Recipe
For this recipe, we attempt to get the best of both worlds by cutting the brisket flat in half partway through the smoke. That way, you can carve some of the flat and enjoy some burnt ends as well.
If you’d rather have all burnt ends, just cube the entire flat and ignore the parts of the recipe that reference the “whole” half. In this case, you might need a second aluminum pan if the first one isn’t big enough to accommodate all the meat.
- 1 brisket flat (6-7 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard (or as needed)
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/3 cup prepared barbecue sauce, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Heat the smoker to 250 degrees.
2. Trim the brisket flat, if necessary, until about 1/4 inch of the fat cap remains on the meat. Remove the silverskin from the opposite side.
3. Slather the brisket with the mustard, adding more if necessary to create an even layer.
4. Combine the salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Add the mixture to the brisket, pressing lightly so that the seasonings adhere to the meat.
5. When the smoker is ready, set the brisket on the cooking grate with the fat side facing down. Close the lid.
6. Smoke the brisket until it achieves an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the meat from the smoker and set it aside for 15-20 minutes.
7. Use a sharp boning knife to divide the brisket flat in half. Cut one half into cubes measuring about 1 inch thick.
8. In a disposable aluminum pan, toss the cubed brisket with barbecue sauce, butter, and brown sugar. Cover the pan and set aside.
9. Wrap the second half of the brisket in butcher paper, if desired.
10. Return both halves of the brisket to the smoker. Continue to smoke until the internal temperature of the whole half reaches 200 degrees.
11. Remove the whole half of the brisket from the heat and tent with foil.
12. Continue to cook the cubed meat, stirring if necessary, until the sauce is sticky and nicely concentrated. You might have to remove the foil cover to help the burnt ends achieve the texture you want.
13. Carve the whole piece into slices, taking care to cut against the grain.
14. Remove the burnt ends from the heat. Serve the cubes and slices with additional barbecue sauce on the side.
How Long Do Burnt Ends Last In The Fridge?
Refrigerate all leftover burnt ends within 2 hours of taking them off the heat. Seal them tightly in zip-top plastic bags or storage containers and set them on the lowest shelf of the fridge. They should keep for up to 5 days when stored in this fashion.
You can use the brisket flat to make burnt ends if you’d like. Just bear in mind that the meat won’t have as much moisture as the point, so the texture might be a little bit different.