Beef Chuck Burnt Ends

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The weather this weekend in Louisiana has been pretty intense.  Yesterday, the city of New Orleans had some serious flooding.  Many reports indicated that up to eight inches of rainfall fell in one sixty minute period alone.  That being said, less than 40 miles north, we spent the afternoon unaware of the severe storms just south of us on the boat with family and friends, wake boarding in the sun with only one small isolated shower.

Cait and I also spent the morning house hunting.  We’ve decided to put down some deeper roots and need some more space than we currently have in our townhouse.  We really love where we live and all the amenities, it’s just quite small with all of our stuff.  The garage is filled with four grills at any given moment (including one that’s twenty feet long and over a thousand pounds).  We found a few homes that we liked, but feel pretty confident we haven’t found “the one” just yet.  We also learned a lot about flood zones, mainly the fact that we want nothing to do with any of them, so the hunt goes on.

The weather today however, is definitely not boat weather.  We wanted to cook something that wouldn’t necessarily take all day, but still fell under the barbecue genre.  I read a recipe in the last couple of weeks that shortcut brisket burnt ends with a piece of pork belly.  We couldn’t easily find pork belly, so decided to give the recipe a shot with a piece of beef chuck we picked up from the store.  Burnt ends normally come from the fatty end of the brisket called the point, and are the product of the insanely slow process of converting a tough piece of beef like brisket, into the tender magical cut that many consider to be the best of BBQ (Texans).

Here’s how we did it…

Ingredients

  • Chuck Roast (2 – 4 LBS)
  • Oak (or other fruit wood, nothing too strong or heavy)
  • Honey
  • BBQ Sauce or Pepper Jelly
  • Apple Juice (for spritzing)

Rub

  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Chili Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder

Pretty easy cook overall.  The first thing you’ll want to do is to cut the chuck roast into two inch cubes.  Throw them into a foil pan and pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil over them to give them some “tack”.  Mix up a rub using the recipe above or whatever you normally use for beef (I am a big fan of keeping it simple – less is more).  Sprinkle the rub over the cubes of beef and mix with your hands, gloves are handy for this bit.  Then cover with plastic wrap and let them come to room temp while you prepare the smoker.

I decided to use my baby offset for this cook.  It’s basically just a smaller version of “The Monte” that I purchased and modified from a big box store a while back.  I like it because I can use only wood as fuel, and it’s so small that it’s not impractical to cook for just Cait and myself.  Light some charcoal in a chimney starter, about ten to fifteen pieces, and dump them into the firebox.  Add a couple of split and halved pieces of wood, and get a clean fire burning for about thirty minutes.  This allows all the thick white acrid smoke to burn off.  Make sure to add a water pan to the chamber to keep the environment inside nice and humid.

When the smoker hits and holds 250 degrees, you’re ready to go.  Evenly spread the chuck cubes on the smoker grates and cook for 90 minutes to two hours, spritzing with apple juice every 30 minutes or so.  What we’re looking for here is not a finished temperature, more of a crust or bark that’s going to give the meat texture.  Keep a clean fire burning and make sure to allow for good airflow so you don’t over-smoke the meat.

Once the color looks good, take it off and put it back in the foil pan.  Drizzle a healthy amount of honey over the meat and add enough barbecue sauce or pepper jelly (or both!) to evenly coat.  Toss the meat in the “sauce” mixture and spread it out evenly in the foil pan.  At this point you can either add a couple of tablespoons of apple juice to the pan or not.  Adding liquid will help prevent the sugars from burning, but may also soften the meat a bit from steaming.  Cover with foil and place back in the smoker (or a 250 degree oven) for 90 minutes to an hour.

We served with roasted sweet potatoes, and some green beans the neighbors gave us from their garden.  We’ll never have to wait twelve hours for beef burnt ends again!

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