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Cooking with Fire

Cooking With Fire: Kansas City Burnt Ends

Josh Cary

In KMUW’s brand new commentary and podcast, Cooking with Fire, All Things Barbecue’s Josh Cary and Chef Tom Jackson begin their global exploration of barbecue close to home.

What is or is not barbecue is an ever-more frequent debate in this country. As we see a national resurgence in the art of smoked meats, everyone seems to have their own definition. Your personal definition likely depends on where you’re from: what part of the country, or even what part of the world.

In Texas, beef brisket is the most cherished form, while the Carolinas believe that pork — and pork only — is true barbecue. But there’s one region of the United States that doesn’t limit itself with these rigid definitions. That region is Kansas City.

Kansas City is the Mecca of barbecue for many due to the fact that — no matter the animal or the cut — the barbecue produced day-in and day-out in both restaurants and by amateur backyard pitmasters is in many ways untouchable.

Though Kansas City doesn’t believe that only one cut or one animal constitutes true barbecue, they have perfected what is simply one of the most impressive barbecue recipes in the world: brisket burnt ends.

The story goes that before Henry Perry’s meat slicer would begin slicing brisket for sandwiches, he would carve off the thinner ends of the brisket and move them to the side. These "burnt ends" became so popular with customers who found themselves waiting in line to order they demanded that they be added to the menu.

If you’d like to try your own hand at this regional favorite, here's Cooking with Fire co-host Chef Tom Jackson's recipe for Brisket Burnt Ends smoked on a pellet grill just for KMUW listeners.

Brisket Burnt Ends


  • brisket point
  • mustard

for the rub:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne

for the sauce:

  • 2 1?4 cups ketchup
  • 2?3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1?2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1?2 tsp. fresh lemon juice


  1. Trim all excess fat from the outside of the point. Butterfly the thick end of the point to make all of the meat about the same thickness. Rub the surface of the meat with a small amount of mustard. Cover the surface of the meat with the rub.
  2. Preheat your smoker to roughly 250ºF. Transfer the meat to the smoker. Smoke until you reach your desired color. You’re looking for a dark mahogany color. This can take 4-5 hours, depending on your cooker. The internal temperature of the meat may range from 150ºF-170ºF. These are rough guidelines. This part of the cook is about achieving a desired color.
  3. Remove the meat from the cooker and place on top of two large pieces of foil. Wrap the meat tightly with the foil, then again with the second sheet of foil. Return to the cooker.
  4. Continue cooking until the meat offers little resistance when probed with an instant read thermometer. It should be like probing room temperature butter. You are cooking to a feel, not a temperature, but most of the time the temperature is between 200ºF-210ºF when the meat is finished. It will likely be a 1-2 hours after wrapping. At this point you’ll want to rest the meat, loosely wrapped in foil in a cooler or cambro for 30 minutes.
  5. Combine all sauce ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, whisking to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings, as necessary. Slice the point into 1” cubes. Toss the cubes in the sauce in a foil pan. Place the foil pan in the cooker for 20 minutes to allow the sauce to set up.

Both Josh Cary and Chef Tom Jackson kick off a discussion of global barbeque on our new KMUW podcast, Cooking with Fire. You can find it at kmuw.org or on iTunes.