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Reheating Pork Belly Burnt Ends to Smoky Perfection

Have you ever tried making burnt ends out of pork belly? It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with this delectable cut of pork, which tends to intimidate beginners.

One of the best things about burnt ends is that they taste just as good the next day. While you could serve them cold on toothpicks and still get rave reviews, they’re even more impressive when you reheat them first. Here are the best ways to do it.

Reheating Pork Belly Burnt Ends

To reheat pork belly burnt ends, set them in a disposable aluminum pan along with another coating of barbecue sauce or glaze. Cover the pan and reheat in a 225-degree smoker for about 30 minutes. You can also use the oven, the stove top, or the sous vide method.

About Pork Belly

As you probably guessed, pork belly comes from the underside of the hog. More specifically, it’s the boneless cut that’s left behind after the butcher cuts away the pork loin and the spare ribs.

Pork belly is rich, fatty, and full of pork flavor. Bacon is most often made from this cut, but in these cases, the meat is smoked and cured beforehand. By contrast, pork belly is sold uncured and free of flavorings and preservatives.

You’re bound to see pork belly on plenty of restaurant menus, but it’s not as popular with home chefs. That’s because the cut requires a precise cooking technique. When it’s not done right, pork belly can be tough and rubbery.

We would recommend slow-cooking the pork belly in order to preserve its best qualities. When braised, smoked, or slow-roasted, the meat should be tender and delicious.

About Burnt Ends

Burnt ends are commonly made from the point end of beef brisket. This is another fatty cut that benefits from a long, slow cooking period.

However, you can also make burnt ends out of pork belly. The method involves cutting meat into cubes, smoking it until tender, slathering it with a sauce or glaze, then heating it again until the cubes are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.

With brisket, the point end is usually cooked to its target temperature before being diced and smothered in sauce. For pork belly burnt ends, you can cut the meat into cubes before adding them to the smoker, as we’ll discuss in the recipe below.

How To Make Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Ingredients

You can use whatever seasoning rub or barbecue sauce you prefer for this recipe. Go for homemade versions whenever time allows. For the rub, a simple blend of salt and pepper would work fine, but feel free to experiment.

For The Pork Belly:

  • 8 pounds pork belly, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup seasoning rub
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey

For The Glaze:

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (optional)

Directions

1. Set your smoker temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using wood chips or pellets, we recommend cherry wood for this recipe.

2. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to cut the meat into 1-1/2-inch cubes.

3. Season the pork belly with the spice rub, taking care to coat the pieces on all sides.

4. Arrange the seasoned cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.

5. When the smoker has reached the target temperature, add the pork belly. Smoke for about 2-1/2 hours.

6. During the initial stage of the smoke, prepare the glaze. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Add Tabasco only if you prefer a kick of extra heat with your smoked meats.

7. Remove the pan from the smoker. Coat the pieces all over with the brown sugar and honey. Place dots of butter in between the pieces.

8. Cover the baking sheet with a layer of aluminum foil. Return the pan to the smoker and let the pork cook for another 1-1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a skewer.

9. Remove the pan from the smoker and drain any excess liquid before adding the glaze. Toss the pieces until thoroughly coated.

10. Set the pan back in the smoker, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, or until the glaze is set. Serve at once, or let the burnt ends cool and refrigerate them until you’re ready to reheat.

Methods For Reheating Pork Belly Burnt Ends

On The Grill or Smoker

We like to use the smoker to reheat burnt ends whenever possible, since the method comes closest to recapturing their former glory.

Set the smoker to 225 degrees. Add the burnt ends to a disposable aluminum pan. If you think they would benefit from another coating of whatever glaze or sauce you used in the original recipe, feel free to add it now.

Place the pan in the smoker and allow them to reheat until they’ve reached an internal temperature of 155 degrees, about 30 minutes. This might be hard to gauge since the cubes are so small, but an instant-read thermometer can give you a pretty good idea.

Use your judgment about whether the burnt ends need extra sauce at any point. You want them to be crispy, with a nice sticky coating on the outside. Just take care not to let the sauce burn.

In The Oven

For the oven, you can use a slightly higher temperature when reheating. This is a faster method and a great option for rainy days.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Let the burnt ends sit at room temperature while the oven heats up. Set them in a roasting pan, taking care to include any leftover juices (and extra sauce, if necessary).

Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil, wrapping the foil to create a tight seal. Heat the burnt ends in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring about halfway through the process, until the meat is heated through and crisp.

On The Stovetop

To reheat pork belly burnt ends on the stovetop, add them to a large skillet. Set the skillet over medium heat. Let the meat reheat slowly, stirring frequently, until the cubes are heated through and crisp.

Tip: You might need to add a bit of liquid or sauce from time to time to prevent the cubes from burning or sticking to the pan.

Sous Vide

When you use the sous vide method, you seal the meat in a vacuum-sealed bag, then reheat it in a water bath. This is a particularly good technique if the vacuum-sealed packs were frozen beforehand.

Be sure that the bags you use are waterproof and heat-safe. If they leak or melt during the process, the meat will be ruined.

Heat a pot of water until hot, but not boiling. Then add the sealed bag to the water and let the pork belly reheat until the cubes reach an internal temperature of 155 degrees. This could take 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how much pork you’re reheating.

Final Thoughts

We don’t usually have to worry about what to do with leftover pork belly burnt ends. They’re so delicious that they tend to disappear right away. If you are lucky enough to have some left over, or if you want to prepare them in advance, reheating them is a snap.

Happy grilling!