So I have officially made it through an entire your of BBQ. This milestone was marked by smoking a ham for Christmas. Early Christmas morning it was easy to think back on the progress I have made in this last year. Last Christmas I was nervously following Mikey's instructions down to the exact number of briquettes in his PK Grill. This year it was on my Weber and while I was still reliant on monitoring the temp of the cooker, it was much more cooking by feel.
I realized in this year that I can cook. Sure I find certain cooks to stretch my limits, but I am comfortable in saying, hell yes, I can cook that. I have also found myself looking to BBQ more. Taking things which would normally be cooked in the kitchen and looking for a way to cook them in my cooker. In short, it has been an incredible year.
With that being said, I realize that this is not the time to rest. BBQ is an art that comes with not only some skill, but a lot of knowledge and experience. There are no shortcuts available to provide this. In looking at the new year ahead of me, while it may be comfortable to continue cooking the meals I know, I will be using Mikey to push my limits. Getting me out of the comfortable area and give me the experience I need.
When Mikey asked me to cook Pork Belly Burnt Ends, he was doing just that. First, there was the cut of meat, which aside from bacon I was inexperienced with. Secondly, there was the cook itself. This whole cook was a step out of the comfort zone.
Finding the cut was difficult. With very few real butcher shops near me, I called about 15 places with no luck to get the elusive uncured pork belly. Finally, I was saved. Mikey sent me a text from whole foods who had it. I drove out there, picked up an extra Tri-Tip to have in the freezer and I was set to cook.
With the pork belly in hand, I began. I first cut the belly into 1-inch chunks. I then rubbed them with Meat Church Gospel and let them sit. I set the fire up, tossed on some apple wood and we were in business. I let the chunks cook for a couple hours until they hit 170 degrees and started getting crispy.
I took them off the grill and put them in a tray where I covered them in brown sugar and butter. After sealing the tray they went back on the grill for an hour. By the time they were done they were transformed from small chunks of meat to the completed burnt ends.
I wasn't exactly sure what to expect out of this. However, the completed cook created something I didn't expect. These were truly meat candy. Bite size pieces so full of flavor that I cannot even describe it. They were simply amazing.
For me, this is out of the box cooking. When I started, cooks were the big things....the pork shoulders...the meals. I certainly would have never expected to be cooking meat candy. There is a huge wide world of possibilities when it comes to BBQ and everything I learn shows me there is even more out there to explore. So come along with me this year as I start taking my BBQ experience to the next level!
Until next post, remember kids.....CHUNKS not chips!