Kansas City is home to some of the best barbeque on earth, especially their burnt ends. As many of you know Joe and I made our home in the Kansas City area for 25 years. One of the things we miss most is the barbeque and particularly the burnt ends from Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que. Joe’s is by far our favorite bbq and we’ve ordered it several times since moving back to New Mexico. Yes, you can order their champion barbeque which is packed in dry ice and sent straight to your door. Each meat is smoked to perfection and vacuum sealed with a handbook of instructions on how to reheat each item, whether it be brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken or burnt ends. I successfully made smoked ribs a few years back which was a triumphant moment for me. Burnt ends would be the ultimate goal if I could pull it off. As it turned out, my oldest son Josh was home for a visit and he was a huge help. We worked together keeping the charcoal going and trying to keep the grill temperature steady while waiting patiently for the internal temperature of the beef to reach the magic number. It took a little over 8 hours to reach our goal and our burnt ends were so tender and flavorful. We smoked 6 1/2 pounds and it was gone in a matter of days. Josh and I agreed that this is our new tradition, when he comes home we make burnt ends.
Traditional burnt ends are made from the point end of a brisket. However, I was not prepared to smoke a whole brisket just so I could use the point end. I started looking for an alternative and found that some folks use chuck roast to make “poor man” burnt ends. Chuck roast has the right amount of fat that makes these burnt ends tender and juicy. I picked up a pack of 2 chuck roasts at Costco one weighing 3 lbs and the other 3 1/2 lbs. I’m using the same rub as I used on the ribs, a recipe for Oklahoma Joe’s Rib Rub from Midwest Magazine. Joe’s KC BBQ used to be Oklahoma Joe’s until they changed their name a few years back. They may change their name but they will always be Oklahoma Joe’s to me!
Let that sit out for 30 minutes or so. It gives the roast a chance to rest and absorb all those wonderful flavors of the seasoning.
Take your wood chips ( I used hickory) and soak for approximately 30 minutes. Place the wood chips on each end of the box. The insert is for your liquid. You can use water, juice, or any other liquid of choice. I am using apple juice and will refill it as it evaporates.
Time to start the charcoal. When it turns white and burns orange it’s ready to go. With hours to go it was easier to keep the chimney full of hot briquettes to add to the grill as the charcoal burned down.
Close your smoker box and lay the coals beside it on one side of the grill. Shut the lid and try to get the temperature to 275 degrees.
I knew this was going to be a challenge keeping the temperature steady and it was going to take at least 8 hours or more so I ordered a meat thermometer that would let me know how hot the grill is and also the internal temperature of the meat. Clamp the transmitter unit to your grill and plug in the 2 food probes. One sits inside the grill, and the other will go into the thickest part of the roast.
We set it so that the temperature of the grill should be approximately 275 degrees and we set it to alarm us when it got below 265 or above 285 degrees. The lower number is the temperature inside the grill and we are almost to 275 degrees, the magic number.
Once we have reached the desired temperature it’s time to place the roast on the grill and place the meat probe into the thickest part of the beef.
After you close the lid the temperature may go up or down. There are two vents on the grill, one on the side and vents at the top. The side vent pulls in oxygen and will flow through the top vents. It may sound counter intuitive but opening the vent on the opposite side of the meat sucks in the oxygen faster and flows through the grill building the heat up. Closing the vents on top partially or all the way will bring the temperature down by not allowing as much oxygen to flow through. We kept the chimney going so that we had hot charcoal to add when it began to burn down in the grill. Every hour or so we would check the coals and add any apple juice and/or wood chips to the smoke box when needed I also had a spray bottle filled with apple juice to spritz the beef every hour. The sugar in the apple juice helped caramelize the roast to get that dark outer bark.
After a couple hours you can begin to see how it’s progressing. For this step we need to get the internal temperature to 165 degrees. Keep the smoke temp at around 275 degrees and keep going.
It took about 4 hours to get to 165 degrees internally. Time for the next step.
Wrap each roast in an aluminum foil tent and place back on the grill. Continue smoking at 275 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees. This took another 1.5 – 2 hours.
Once you hit the 195 degrees let the roast and let rest for 15 minutes. Unwrap and slice the beef in 1 inch thick slices. Turn them 90 degrees and slice again in 1 inch pieces creating 1 inch cubes.
Once you have all the cubes cut, place into a large aluminum baking pan.
Pour 2 cups of beef broth over the cubes and secure the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil. Place back on the grill at 275 degrees approximately an hour or however long it takes to evaporate all the broth.
Tender juicy burnt ends with a dark bark that holds so much flavor. At this point they are ready to serve with barbeque sauce on the side. Joe’s burnt ends are served this way and that’s the way we like them. However, if you like your burnt ends with sauce you can pour some sauce over them and place back on the smoker for a few minutes to heat up and caramelize just a bit.
And this is the holy grail of sauce . . . Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Sauce.
This is it!
This is the sauce!
The sauce made famous at the little barbecue joint in the gas station at the corner of 47th and Mission.
Yes, that sauce.
The sauce in the squirt bottles on the tables.
The sauce on the Z-Man.
The sauce you couldn’t buy until now.
Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que Sauce.
The One. . . The Only
Kansas City Burnt Ends (Inspired by Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que)
6 1/2 Pounds Chuck Roast, (this can be 1 or 2 roasts that equal 6 1/2 lbs.)
Joe’s Rib Rub, recipe follows
Joe’s KC Bar-B-Que Sauce, (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
Charcoal (approximately 6 – 8 pounds)
Apple Juice or your choice of liquid
Spray bottle filled with Apple Juice
2 cups Beef Broth (I used Better than Bouillon dissolved in water)
Wood Chips (I used Hickory)
Thermometer to gauge grill temperature and meat internal temperature
Pat your beef roasts dry with a paper towel and season liberally with the rib rub over all sides of the roast. Let roast rest while you prepare the smoker.
Pre-soak enough wood chips to fill your smoke box plus extra to refill during your smoke time. Start the charcoal in a chimney to heat. When the coals are hot and ready, fill the smoke box with the soaked wood chips and add the liquid to the insert box. Place the box on the opposite side of where the meat will be. Pour the hot coals near the smoke box and close the lid. When the temperature reaches 275 degrees, set your roast or roasts on the opposite side of the smoker for indirect heat. If you are using a meat probe, place it in the thickest part of the beef. Use the side and top vents to regulate the heat inside the grill, open more to add heat and close vents to cool down. The trick is to hold the temperature as close to 275 within 10 – 15 degrees above or below at all times. You will need to add more coals as the time passes to keep the temperature holding steady.
Check the roasts every hour or so to make sure there is sufficient liquid in the smoke box and spritz the beef with apple juice. If needed, add more soaked wood chips and charcoal as the charcoal burns down. Smoke the beef until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees (approximately 4 hours or so). The exterior of your beef should have a dark outer bark. Wrap the roasts in aluminum foil. Wrap up the edges of the foil to create a tent and place back on the grill. Place the probe through the foil and into the thickest part of the beef and smoke again at 275 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees. This took approximately 1.5 – 2 hours. Again, make sure to check the smoke box and charcoal for refills if needed.
When the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees, remove the beef from the aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes. Slice the beef in 1 inch thick slices. Turn the slices 90 degrees and slice in 1 inch slices again creating 1 inch cubes. Place the cubes into an aluminum pan and pour the beef broth in with the cubes. Place a sheet of aluminum foil securely over top and place back on the grill. Keep the temperature at 275 degrees and check after 30 minutes to see how much liquid has evaporated. This can take as long as an hour but check after 30 minutes and then every 15 minutes thereafter. You want the burnt ends to remain on the grill until nearly all the liquid has evaporated from the pan without scorching the cubes.
At this point you can serve your burnt ends with barbecue sauce on the side or you can pour a small amount of barbecue sauce over the cubes, just enough to barely cover them when stirred. Place back on the grill for 20-30 minutes to caramelize.
Serve with fries or your favorite side dish. Any leftover burnt ends can be vacuum sealed and frozen for another day. To re-heat, thaw burnt ends, remove from the vacuum seal and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Fold the foil to seal over the burnt ends so that they will steam. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
Makes 6 1/2 pounds of burnt ends.
Joe’s Rub (adapted from Midwest Living Magazine)
2 tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Ancho Chile, coarse ground
1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon White Pepper
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
In a small bowl combine all ingredients together and store in a covered container at room temperature.