This post has been sponsored by Martin’s Potato Rolls. The recipe, and all opinions are completely my own. As always, THANK YOU to my sponsors for helping keep my site running and new recipes flowing!
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Austin, TX and there I met the crew at Martin’s. It obviously follows that we became fast friends. They make yummy potato buns. I like to make things to put on yummy buns! It was basically fate. After tossing around a few ideas for what would be the best match up for my meaty goodies and their tender rolls, we came together over this Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions.
I’ve been wanting to detail my method for burnt ends for a while now, and after my recent trip to the burnt ends capital of the world (Kansas City) I felt like I was finally prepared to share my recipe. These burnt ends are about as classic BBQ as you can get and are absolutely perfect for your next summer cookout.
The true secret to good burnt ends is starting with a whole packer brisket. A brisket is actually two muscles that overlap, the flat (which is leaner) and the deckle or point (which is much fattier). When you smoke the whole brisket together, the fat cap and the point help keep the flat nice and juicy and the flat helps keep the point from being over exposed to heat and getting stringy. The flat is perfect for slicing and serving, and the point is what we need for making our tender, sweet burnt ends, AKA meat candy.
PRO TIPS: If you need more info about what brisket is you can read my BRISKET 101 post. If you need some help with trimming your brisket before smoking, read HOW TO TRIM A BRISKET. If you don’t want to cook a whole brisket and save the flat for slicing, you can follow my recipe for Poor Man’s Burnt Ends instead which uses a chuck roast to give you a whole tray of mock burnt ends.
When your burnt ends are done they will practically melt in your mouth, so to make the perfect sandwich we need a bun that is just as tender. This is one of those scenarios where you want the bun and the meat to melt together in perfect harmony. That’s where Martin’s comes in. Their potato rolls really are the perfect complement to the sticky sweet burnt ends because they help hold everything together and soak up all the yummy juices. Check out the product locator to find out where to get ya some rolls so you can enjoy this one at home!
Burnt Ends Sandwich with Pickled Red Onions
- 1 12-14 lb whole brisket point and flat included
- 3 Tablespoons coarse black pepper
- 3 Tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons garlic powder
For the Burnt Ends:
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons honey
For the Pickled Red Onions
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced into rings
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- Preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.
- Trim your brisket so that only ¼ inch of fat remains across the fat cap on top. Flip the brisket over and trim off any excess fat or stringy connective tissue on the bottom. Trim a little off of each side of the brisket to create a nice rectangular and uniform brisket.
- In a bowl, combine the pepper, salt and garlic. Mix well and season all sides of the brisket. You don’t want the rub caked on, but you want to evenly cover all the surfaces of the brisket.
- Place your seasoned brisket on your smoker and smoke for about 10-12 hours (yes seriously it takes that long, this is BBQ!). You will want to use an internal thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the meat to watch your temperature. The meat will slowly rise in temperature until about 145 degrees F, and then it will slow way down. This is called “the stall” and is totally normal. Let your brisket continue to smoke until it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature.
- Lay out a large sheet of pink butcher paper or un-waxed parchment paper (you can use foil also). Transfer the brisket to the butcher paper and wrap tightly so no moisture will escape. Return to the smoker and continue cooking at 250 degrees until the internal temperature of the brisket reads 202 degrees F with a meat thermometer (about 3 more hours).
- About 15-20 minutes before your brisket reaches the correct temperature, prepare your pickled red onions. In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine and fully incorporate the salt. Add in the red onions and press to make sure they are fully covered by the liquid. Refrigerate for an hour.
- Remove the brisket from the smoker and let rest for several minutes. Increase the temperature to 300 degrees on your smoker and let it preheat while you prepare the burnt ends. Open the butcher paper and remove the brisket to a large cutting board. Use a pair of tongs to lift the point end of the brisket (it will be the large, bulging section). You should be able to easily separate the point from the flat by running a knife along underneath the point through the vein of fat that separates the two muscles.
- Set the flat back in the butcher paper and wrap again to hold until serving time. Use a sharp knife to cut the point muscle into 1 inch cubes. Transfer the cubes to a disposable cooking pan or cast iron skillet. Drizzle the cubes with the BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and honey. Toss gently to combine. Return the burnt ends to the smoker, uncovered, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes or until the sauce has been mostly absorbed by the burnt ends.
- Pull your burnt ends off the smoker, it is time to serve!! Stack your Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls high with the burnt ends and top with a couple of the pickled red onions and additional BBQ sauce, if desired. You can also slice the brisket flat against the grain and serve on the buns too for brisket sandwiches!