When it comes to making this BBQ delicacy, Traeger Pro Team member Matt Pittman is king. We’ve got all of Matt’s tips and tricks on everything from the meat selection, to the prep and the cook, for melt-in-your-mouth flavor-packed goodness. Follow our easy how-to guide and become a pork belly burnt end master. Trying out our tips on your Traeger? Share your burnt ends photos on social media with #TraegerGrills.
The quality of the taste of your final end product, comes down to the quality of the meat you use. For the best results, make sure to pick up a high-quality pork belly at your local butcher or supermarket. However, this recipe is a bit more forgiving when it comes to the pork you’re using thanks to the pork belly getting heavily sauced and seasoned, so find a pork belly in your price range and you’ll still have amazing results. As far as size goes, look for a 5-7 lb. skinless pork belly for these burnt ends.
Tip from Matt: I like using a heritage breed pork for this recipe. I always warn people that once you’ve had a Duroc or Berkshire, it’s hard to go back to anything else.
PREPPING THE BURNT ENDS
Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it doesn’t require a whole lot of prep. If you purchased pork belly with the skin still on, make sure to remove it with a sharp knife before you get cooking. You don’t have to let that skin go to waste though, use it later to make chicharrones, a delicious fried pork skin dish. Next, just cube your pork belly slab into 1”x 1” cubes and you’re ready to get cookin’.
Tip from Matt: While you can make pork belly burnt ends by smoking the whole pork belly slab, I like to cube it up from the start so you get the most smoke flavor absorption and caramelization.
PREP TIME: 5 MIN
COOK TIME: 4 HOURS
1 (5-7 LB.) SKINLESS PORK BELLY CUT INTO 1" x 1" CUBES
1 ½ C TRAEGER APRICOT SAUCE
½ C CLOVER HONEY
2 ½ DISPOSABLE ALUMINUM STEAM PANS
1 CUP APPLE JUICE FOR SPRITZING
1. When ready to cook, start Traeger grill according to grill instructions and set 275 degrees. Preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Thoroughly coat all sides of the pork belly cubes with your choice of Honey Hog, or The Gospel seasoning. You can even use Holy Gospel or Honey Hog Hot. Allow the rub to adhere on all sides for at least 15 minutes.
Tip from Matt: I prefer a spicier rub because I finish these with a sweet sauce.
3. Place the pork belly in the Traeger fat-side down. I prefer to do this on a wire rack. Cook the pork belly for 3 hours spritzing with apple juice every 45 minutes or whenever it starts to look dry. Pull the belly when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 190°F - 195°F.
Tip from Matt: I like to cook them until they are tender (like a brisket) which occurs north of a 195 internal temp.
4. Place the cubes in the 1/2 aluminum pans. Season and toss the cubes with more Meat Church rub and cover them with Traeger Apricot sauce. Drizzle clover honey across the top then toss the cubes thoroughly to ensure they are completely covered.
5. Return the pan (uncovered) to the Traeger and cook for another hour or until all liquid has reduced and caramelized. Allow to cool for 15 minutes and enjoy!
Now you’ve mastered a whole new way to do delicious BBQ. Try this recipe for family and friends and they won’t last long in the pan. Looking for more of Matt’s recipes or want to search the entire Traeger recipe arsenal? Check out all of our wood-fired recipes.
Learn more about Matt’s passion for BBQ and story.
Keep up with what’s happening at Meat Church by following Matt on Instagram and if you want to sharpen your BBQ skills with Matt or one of our other Traeger pitmasters, sign up for a Traeger Shop Class near you.