Midsummer night’s BBQ: Burnt edges

Midsummer night’s BBQ: Burnt edges

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Brisket slices from the crustier end by Smoque BBQ (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)

“We don’t officially carry burnt ends,” said Barry Sorkin, owner of Smoque BBQ.

Was it a dream? I remember calling up just this past Sunday to place a Father’s Day pick-up feast with pulled pork and sliced brisket, asking for as much bark and crust as possible. Then I heard the question: “Like burnt ends?”

Burnt ends are BBQ black gold. A delicacy of the Kansas City school of Q, they’re the crisp and fatty brisket ends, traditionally cubed, then smoked again—sometimes slathered with sweet, tangy, ketchupy KC-style sauce.

Not everyone loves them. Some people find them too tough and dry. These are the same people I’m guessing who don’t like the corner or edge pieces of baked macaroni and cheese, cornbread, or cobbler. To them, I say: THANK YOU.

In the clear light of day today, Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, I spoke with Barry about this fairyland Q. “The reason we can’t do burnt ends is because we’re including it with the sliced brisket. It’s a tradeoff,” he said. “If someone asks for burnt ends, we just try to cut from the crustier part.”

“If everyone asks for it we’ll be in trouble.”

Smoque has served classic KC style burnt ends as an occasional special. Brand BBQ has them in a combo sandwich and mac and cheese, Pork Shoppe in baked beans, and at Real Urban Barbeque they’re a specialty that sells out fast.

“We’re always looking for ways to do more traditional burnt ends,” said Barry, “I’d much rather be able to offer the real deal.”

Smoque may not serve traditional burnt ends, theirs more burnt edges on succulent slices of smoky brisket. But I assure you, at first sight of the blackened treasure, at that moment, things got very real indeed.

Crusty brisket slice by Smoque BBQ (WBEZ/Louisa Chu)