In the world of barbecue, every region has a signature protein that represents its style, ranging from dry-rubbed ribs in Memphis to Texas' beloved brisket. But if you ask anyone from Kansas City, like 18th & Vine pitmaster Matt Dallman, burnt ends are where it's at. Since arriving, he's been working tirelessly to spread the gospel of his home state's most delicious barbecue offering.
The often overlooked edges (or points) of the brisket are just one step shy of an actual delicacy in Dallman’s hometown. Considering that everyone loves impeccably tender hunks of meat bathed in a rich, piquant sauce, it's no wonder that Kansas City-style burnt ends have quickly become popular at Dallas barbecue establishments.
At 18th & Vine, though, you'll find the best burnt ends this side of Missouri, updated to please Dallas palates. As the burnt end offerings have increased in popularity at the Maple Avenue restaurant, Dallman has had time to reflect on the differences between KC and central Texas barbecue styles.
"Ours is a little sweeter, just a little bit different flavor set. [Kansas City] cooks over oak and hickory, whereas central Texas would be majority post oak," says Dallman.
Simple as they may look, it takes a great deal of care to produce perfectly smoky, rich, and sweet burnt ends. Eater photographer Kathy Tran got a behind the scenes look at how Dallman magically turns brisket ends into delicious meat candy.
- After 12-14 hours in the smoker, Dallman prepares to trim the burnt-crisp points away from the brisket.
- The brisket trimmings are cut into chunks, producing bite-sized morsels of burnt ends.
- Dallman carefully blends the perfect ratio of meat, fat, and smoky bark.
- Dallman piles the burnt ends into a pan, where they head back into the smoker for another hour or two.
- In the process, the burnt ends baste in 18th & Vine's "secret sauce" until the bark caramelizes.
- The burnt ends are then served with housemade pickles and pickled onions – the perfect mix of smoky, sweet and salty.
- Bask in their meaty glory.
- And thus, a perfectly succulent cube of meat candy is born.