Burnt Ends

Tough, smoky, bits of brisket that are pure gold

brisket on table
How to make brisket burnt ends. Phoebe_Lapine / Getty Images

Burnt Ends are considered a delicacy in the barbecue world. These taste, tough pieces of brisket are served up in all kinds of dishes or just the way they are drenched in barbecue sauce. Many barbecue joints across the United States will serve up a Burnt End plate and let you decide what to do with it.

So what are burnt ends? They are trimmings from a smoked brisket. A beef brisket is a strangely shaped cut of meat and, when smoked, pieces around the edge tend to dry out and get very smoky in flavor.

These parts are trimmed off and instead of being discarded are served up in everything from sandwiches to barbecue gumbo. They have an intense smoke flavor and, though generally on the tough and chewy side, are very popular with the barbecue crowd.

You get burnt ends either because the brisket you've smoked ended up with them, or because you have taken parts of a smoked brisket and returned them to the smoker to finish off. Yes, people actually intend to make dried out burnt ends and there is a very good reason. Burnt ends are a key ingredient in dishes like baked beans. The intense flavor makes burnt ends the perfect meat for stews and beans. The meat gets tender in the liquid and passes on that great smoky flavor to whatever you add them to.

If you want a good source of burnt ends, try trimming the thin point from your smoked brisket and returning it to the smoker for a few more hours. This will drain off the last of the fat and intensify the smoke flavor.

Burnt ends might be something of an acquired taste for some, and if you find regular smoked meats a little too smoky you might want to steer clear of them. If on the other hand, you can't get enough of that smoky flavor then burnt ends are the thing for you. Try fixing up a pile with your favorite sauce.