Page 6 - JULY 2021 Digital Issue
P. 6

burnt ends
 Ardie Davis
aka Remus Powers BBQ Hall of Famer
Free Burned Brisket
Edges, Yesterday -
Free Burnt Ends,
..The main course at Bryant’s, as far as I’m concerned, is something that is given away free the burned edges of the brisket. The counterman just pushes them over to the side as he slices the beef, and anyone who wants them helps himself. I dream of those burned edges.
What’s the big deal about burned meat? It used to be, long ago, that whole animals were burned to ashes as a sacrifice to a god or gods.
Peppercorn-crusted beef steak cooked in a super-hot cast iron skillet has long been a popular
dish from France. Blackened fish ala
New Orleans has moved from fad to
classic. Nothing, however, has gained popularity faster and wider than barbecued burnt ends. Al- though Kansas City rightly claims them, now they are everywhere.
Today we don’t burn entire animals into sacrificial ashes. We burn sea- soned meat into flavorful, juicy, tender burnt ends with crunchy bark.
Calvin Trillin’s remark about his passion for the free “burned edges” of beef brisket at Arthur Bryant’s eventually spawned billions of charred lean/fatty meat cubes, chunks or slices of smoked and sea- soned beef, ham, pork belly, sausage or other meats we call “burnt ends” today.
- Calvin Trillin, American Fried (1970)
Burnt ends went viral before viral became a common ex- pression for a social media explosion. Thousands of cul- tural ephemera and personalities “go viral” weekly on our here-now-gone-tomorrow temporocentric social media platforms. Some, like burnt ends, go beyond viral to iconic.
Free burned edges disappeared sometime after Mr. Bryant’s death in 1982. Don’t hold your breath for a “tomorrow” when burnt ends are free.
KC restaurant entrepreneur, the late Gary Berbiglia, became co-owner of Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque after Mr. Bryant’s death. He decided to ex- pand the concept of burned edges, making them meatier and selling them as “burnt ends,” similar to the popular brisket and ham “brownies” on the menu at Snead’s Bar-B-Q, beloved in Kansas City since 1956. Trillin had also praised Snead’s as a mandatory stop in KC, especially for the brownies.
After the burnt ends craze exploded in Kansas City, barbecue restaurant proprietors nationwide jumped on- board, adding their signature ver- - 6
JULY 2021

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