Burnt Ends

Barbecue beef brisket

We usually end the week with a food post and I’m in the mood to fire up the smoker so let’s talk about burnt ends.  No, this has nothing to do with you standing too close to the pit but everything to do with fat, flavor, and fun.  You probably don’t think they have much to do with business, but you know I’ll find a way, right?First, what the heck are they?  For those of you living north of the Mason Dixon line, burnt ends are the tasty little crust bits from a well-barked brisket.  Huh?  Bark is that crispy stuff on the outside of a well-seasoned, properly smoked piece of meat, usually briskets, pork butts, etc.  Generally, they’re kind of fatty and years ago were what was left over after the brisket was sliced and served.  No self-respecting barbecue place would serve them on a brisket plate.  However, as with many things barbecue related, Mr. Arthur Bryant used to give them away and yet another trend began.

Today, lots of places serve “brunt ends” that are really just beef chunks tossed with sauce.  Feh!  A true brunt end is a scarcity (remember, it’s essentially what was going to get tossed out when the good stuff had been served) but worth paying for.   Smart places will save all the fatty ends and toss them back in the smoker to reduce further.  I think I grow faint just thinking about it.  They can be hit or miss – some are really fatty and inedible (well, maybe I can force one down), some are dry and chewy, but most are great.  In fact, if you get a plate of burnt ends that are consistent throughout, they’re probably the aforementioned “faux” burnt ends – beef chunks in sauce.

That raises the business question.  What things might you be overlooking, considering as trash, or otherwise under-utilizing?  Remember that both lobster and monkfish were considered “trash fish” not that long ago.  What in your business is worth another look?

Where have you had the best burnt ends and can I get there from Connecticut in under 2 hours?

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