In the Kitchen

Pork Loin on the Ugly Drum Smoker

I did it again this weekend. I fired up the ugly drum smoker.

Pork Loin

Friday night on my way home I stopped at Costco and they had pork loin on for six dollars a kilo.

So I thought to myself, let’s do this. I bought and took home a 4 kg pork loin.

Pork Loin

I rolled some plastic film onto the biggest cookie sheet I have and flopped the loin onto it and then showered it with store bought barbecue rub.

A good healthy coating, and then I pulled the plastic wrap up and around the loin and tucked it into the fridge for the night.

Pork Loin

Morning time, I pulled the pork loin out and cut it into three approximately equal sized pieces. Then the weirdness. Keep your mind on the food. And out of the gutter.

I slid my chef’s knife into the centre of each of the loins and gave it a little twist to open up a little pocket in the loin. And then I slid a smokie into the centre of each loin. Focus on the food.


Then I went outside to get the Ugly Drum Smoker fired up. Lit the chimney thing, got the handfuls coals white hot, and then dumped them into the basket of hardwood charcoal briquettes in the bottom of the UDS.

I tossed in a generous handful of hickory wood chips (I couldn’t find my apple wood chips) and then put the lid on the drum to let it heat up.

Ugly Drum Smoker

Once up to 250° – about half an hour, I put the three pieces of pork loin on the racks in the drum.

Pork Loin

Stuck a thermometer in each of the pieces of meat and one in the centre of drum to measure drum temperature, and it was rolling.

I left the bottom valve air intakes to the fire chamber wide open and the drum maintained a pretty steady 240°. I also had just one chimney/vent open on the top.

Pork Loin

Two hours and 20 minutes after putting the pork on the rack the probes reached 153° and 143°. I pulled the loins off and took them in the house where I tented them with foil.

Pork Loin

Only because I had a busy day planned did I leave them to rest for as long as I did. But when I sliced into them – wow. What a taste sensation!

Pork Loin

The pork was still moist and the smokie in the middle? It added a very funky feature to the pork. When I do it again I’ll probably put multiple slashes in the smokie casing so the flavour can leak out more easily.

I will call this another Ugly Drum Smoker success! Next thing I want to try? A smoked meatloaf wrapped in a bacon weave.

In the Kitchen

Firing up the Ugly Drum Smoker

This weekend, for the first time since the summer just gone, I fired up the beast – my Ugly Drum Smoker. And it was ultra-cool feeling to make some barbecue!

Ugly Drum Smoker

The usual routine to light it, wad up a couple sheets of newspaper, cram them into the base of the barbecue lighting chimney, place 10-12 pieces of hardwood charcoal in the top compartment, and then light the paper on fire.

Within five or ten minutes (time becomes irrelevant when barbecuing) the paper is burned up and the charcoal is beginning to turn white from the heat. I waited until about half the charcoal pieces were ignited and then dumped the chimney of charcoal into the basket of charcoal in the base of the drum.

Ugly Drum Smoker

Then I let that start to heat up the drum. I’m a man of science, seeing as I don’t yet have a feel for the way the UDS works so I lower a thermometer probe into the centre of the drum.

I want the interior of the drum to be about 200°. ?

Chicken on Smoker

Once the drum has reached temperature, I placed the six chicken thighs on the grill/rack. I put a thermometer probe into one of the pieces of chicken and then closed the lid and let the barbecue start smoking and cooking.

There’s a saying in the barbecue world, “If you’re looking, you’re not cooking.” So I leave the drum closed and let the smoke and heat do it’s magic.

Chicken on UDS

Oddly enough, I really don’t know how long I left the thighs on the grill. It was about 45 minutes …. here I am saying I’m a man of science and yet I didn’t record the time in and out. Weak.

Chicken on Smoker

The first batch that I did, yep, I did two batches, turned out perfectly cooked. I pulled them off when the internal temperature of the meat was 180°. ?I had used my homemade rub/coating and the kids found it too spicy (it does have a powerful bite to it!).

Once the first batch of thighs was done and I had tasted them, I realized that it was ridiculous to fire up the UDS just to do six thighs. So I grabbed another six from the fridge, tossed them in a bag with sone store-bought Shake N Bake mix, and them put them on the grill.

Chicken on UDS

The second batch turned out just as beautifully. And not nearly as spicy so the kids both had a taste. Not a big taste – they’re both not big on eating meat right now.

Bottom line, the chicken thighs were awesome. But next time I light up the grill I will be sure to have more meat ready to go on the smoker. Probably a big old pork loin that I can barbecue and then slice up for lunches during the following week.

I’ll be sure to share pics of my next Ugly Drum Smoker experience.

In the Kitchen

My Ugly Drum Smoker Follow-up

I did it. I have managed to finish building, seasoning, and now cooking meat in the Ugly Drum Smoker that I started building earlier this summer.

Ugly Drum Smoker

Yes I did. I cooked a set of side ribs and a pile of sausages.

The ribs and sausages turned out “okay”. Not great. My results may be more related to my choice of meat, however, considering it was my first time cooking over hardwood charcoal in an Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) I was pretty pleased.

To hear more about my UDS experience, you can watch my little YouTube video. Be sure to watch to the end to see my bloopers and little boo-boos.

Durable Goods

Building an Ugly Drum Smoker

I want a Big Green Egg barbecue-smoker but I do not have the budget for one. So the next best thing – according to the internets is an Ugly Drum Smoker. A UDS. So I built one.

Ugly Drum Smoker

Well, I started to build one. Mine is 90% done. I will work on it some more this week to try and get it completed.

I still need to complete the briquette basket for inside, add a drum thermometer, and get the correct size of racks to put inside it.

And then I need to “do a burn” to season the interior of the drum. Seasoning the interior involves spraying or wiping the interior of the drum with an oil like canola oil and then burning a basket of briquettes with some hickory or apple wood to add some smoky goodness to the inside of the drum. That’s next.

The reality is that an Ugly Drum Smoker is NOT actually ugly. Once it is complete with a coat of high temperature paint, it is quite a handsome smoker.

I will add more details once I get to the next step with this Ugly Drum Smoker.

In the Kitchen

Instant Pot Pork Chops

I got home yesterday to find that there was nothing in the fridge to feed the family. And they were hungry. Hungry and quickly transitioning to hangry.

Instant pot

What to do? Yes, that is correct, I turned to the Instant Pot. And, I went way out of comfort zone because I put FROZEN meat in my Instant Pot.

I had four pork chops frozen. Frozen into one solid block. Rock hard.

Did I mention the kids were about to turn on me? They were. So I turned the Instant Pot to sauté, added some olive oil and I let it heat up.

Then I dropped in the chunk of frozen pork. And poured in a cup and a half of chicken stock. Put on the lid, flipped to the lid to “seal” and the timer for 15 minutes. And then I stepped away to start working on some Carolina-style barbecue sauce.

Because the chunk-o-pork was frozen it took a few minutes for the liquid (chicken stock) to get up to temperature. Once it did, the timer started counting down from 15 minutes.

Once we got to zero, I was anxious to see what was inside so I did a “controlled quick vent”. Opened the lid and saw that my chunk-o-pork was now four sort of frozen pork chops. Good news!

I poured the Carolina-style barbecue sauce into the Instant Pot and put the lid back on. Sealed it. Set it. 15 minutes.

In no time the Instant Pot was up to temperature and under pressure.

15 minutes later I did another quick pressure release and opened up the pot. The pork was now ready to be “pulled” which I did in a large stainless bowl. Using two forks I pulled the pork into shreds.

I ladled on a little of the barbecue sauce and mixed it all together.

I split a few Kaiser buns and placed them under the broiler for a couple minutes to get them browned.

Instant pot

Then I scooped some of the pulled pork onto the bun, added a scoop of coleslaw onto the other side of the bun, ladled on some more of the Carolina-style barbecue sauce, and got ready to eat.

The most amazing thing? Both kids liked it and they actually ate it!!

And just like that, they went from neatly hangry to fully happy.

That’s A Dad in the Burbs style cooking!

Here is my A Dad in the Burbs “recipe” for the Carolina-style barbecue sauce:

  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestshire sauce
  • A scoop of mustard – about a tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

I added all the above ingredients into a medium sized saucepan, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to low and let it simmer while I waited for the pork to cook in the Instant Pot.

The Carolina-style barbecue sauce has a strong vinegar hit – much different than the sweeter Texas style barbecue sauce – which I quite like. I just wanted to try something different this time.

That’s it!

Food and Drink

Brisket from Dixie’s Barbecue

Last weekend I happened to be near Dixie’s Barbecue on East Hastings just east of Main Street.

Dixie's BarbecueSeeing as I had already eaten dinner, I decided to go to the “build your own BBQ platter” menu at Dixie’s so that I could keep it “light”.

Meat at Dixie'sI ordered the quarter pound of in-house smoked brisket and a quarter pound of smoked pork butt. As an interesting aside, did you know that the “pork butt” is a cut of meat from the front shoulder of a pig? It actually has nothing to do with the pig’s “butt”.

Dixie's BarbecueI added a side of the mac and cheese. And all of the “build it yourself” menu items come with a small bowl of pickles and hot peppers. And of course two slices of white bread “to soak up all the barbecue juices”.

Dixie's BarbecueI thought that the shelf full of wood was part of the decor; nope. It is the wood they use to burn in their smoker. A smoker that is 100% wood – they do not use gas or electricity to get the wood burning and smoking. Apparently they are the only barbecue joint in the city that is 100% wood-fired barbecue.

Dixie's BarbecueHence the wood splitting axe in the kitchen!

Dixie's BarbecueI have to admit – my photos of my food from Dixie’s are terrible. I was so busy taking pictures of the restaurant and talking bourbon with the bartender that I just plain forgot to get “good” pictures of my food.

Dixie's BarbecueI could only eat half the brisket even though it was probably the best brisket I have had in this city so I took the leftovers home and warmed the brisket up in a pan, slid an egg I had cooked overeasy onto a slice of toast and I had an outrageous breakfast.

Dixie's BarbecueWhat a feast! I will be returning to Dixie’s Barbecue to try their entire barbecue menu.

So delicious!

  • Dixie’s Barbecue is located at 33 East Hastings Street
  • Phone 778-379-4770
Food and Drink

Lunch at Memphis Blues Barbecue

The barbecue scene in Vancouver has certainly improved over the last few years; there is the Hogshack out in Steveston, Dixies on Hastings Street, Peckinpah in Gastown, and of course a number of locations of Memphis Blues Barbecue House.

Last week when we were hankering for some barbecue, we decided to visit the Richards Street location of Memphis Blues for lunch.

Barbecue Ribs
Barbecue Ribs

Our visit to Memphis Blues Barbecue House was perfectly timed as they were just pulling the racks of ribs and rib ends out of the pit. What an impressive sight!

Being unfamiliar with the work that the pitmasters do at Memphis Blues we chose to order the Memphis Platter – a massive platter intended to serve 3-5 people. However, it has some of each of their barbecued meats and a sample of each of the side dishes.

This is a good way to sample the entire menu and guarantee a heap of leftovers*.

The Memphis Platter
The Memphis Platter

The Memphis Platter more than covered our lunch needs!

My favourites on the platter were the pork ribs and the brisket. The ribs were cooked so that they were tender to the bite but not melt “fall apart” mushy. The best part of the ribs was the smoke “bark” on each rib. Deep and smoky flavour!! Lots of flavour without being too smoky.

The brisket was also wonderful; ultra tender with enough fat in it to add a great degree of tenderness. Ohhh…so good!!

When I return to Memphis Blues (guaranteed I will be returning!) the ribs and brisket are the two meats I will order again. That being said, I really enjoyed the very moist chicken meat, the slices of smoked sausage and the pulled pork. All very good.

The funniest part about the meal was that when we ordered the platter my lunch companion and I both commented that we probably would not eat the baked beans.

Once the platter arrived at our table and we tasted them, both of us couldn’t stop eating them! They were unbelievably delicious. I suppose three hours in the barbecue pit provides that perfect smoky flavor.

The potato salad was “okay” although I would not order it again. There was nothing wrong with it but it just wasn’t my thing. I did very much like the corn bread and the slaw that comes with the meal. The slaw had a strong peppery snap to it.

Overall our meal at Memphis Blues Barbecue House was excellent. Friendly service, good food and a heap of leftovers. Win-win-win.

I’ll be returning for more.

*We had TWO more full meals from the leftovers we took home from Memphis Blues.


Food and Drink

Re-Up BBQ to Open in the River Market at the Westminster Quay; NaBloPoMo 22

Okay, River Market at Westminster Quay has Crepe des Amis, Pamola Bakery, Donald’s Market, the Farmer’s Market all winter, and now the news has come out that Re-Up BBQ are moving into the neighbourhood!

The barbecue wizards behind Re-Up have started the process of getting permits and all that bureaucratic stuff so that they can open a barbecue restaurant in the River Market. That is not a simple or quick process so don’t expect anything until well into the new year. I’m thinking February or March.

Re-Up Bacon
Re-Up Bacon


However, to keep New Westers interested in their pulled pork and other barbecue fare (including the BEST bacon in BC), they will continue to bring their food truck to the Farmers Market on the first weekend of each month.


Food and Drink

New Westminster’s Best Pulled Pork Sandwich; NaBloPoMo Day 15

Yesterday I stopped into The Ranch BBQ house on my way home and I tried their new teriyaki pulled pork sandwich. As I typically do, I tweeted about the delicious flavours of my first supper.

Teriyaki Pulled Pork
Teriyaki Pulled Pork

As a result, my New Wester friends on Twitter and I then got into a Twitter conversation about the best barbecue place in New Westminster.

The contenders for best pulled pork/barbecue are, The Ranch BBQ in Sapperton, The Coming Home Cafe uptown New West and the new BBQ kid who is moving into town, Re-Up BBQ.

@Reupbbq (their Twitter name) set-up at The Rivermarket on Sunday afternoon just to give New Westers a taste of their wares. The next step for them is a permanent home inside The Rivermarket.

What I learned from my Twitter conversation last night was that they are all create good, or delicious pulled pork but each one is unique in their tastes. So my task is to go to each place and sample them with the expectation for me to report back here.

This is tough work but I am up for the challenge for your benefit.

Food and Drink

Mark Brand Re-Opens the Classic Save-On-Meats

It seems like a lifetime ago but in reality it was just over a week ago that I visited the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver to do a little foodie tour. I started at the newly re-opened Save-On-Meats on W. Hastings, walked over to Peckinpah and closed my tour with dessert at the Acme Cafe.




First, Save-On-Meats, home to the happy flying pig sign at 43 West Hastings Street. A classic revitalized and reborn by Vancouver restaurateur, Mark Brand.


The main floor of the four story building is home to the meat shop on one side and the upgraded cafe/diner on the other side. The two businesses are separated by an interior wall.




The meat shop side of the business sells meats that are cut on site.

They also sell breads and pastries that are baked on site.


The diner/cafe is a pretty serious upgrade to the former cafe that was nestled in the back of the old Save-On-Meats. The hipster factor is over the top in the new Save-On-Meats cafe.

Save On Meats Diner
Save On Meats Diner

What was really interesting was the fact that there would be a table full of hipsters and then right next to it would be a table of people who clearly reside in the Downtown Eastside because many of their choices have been lost along the way. Both worlds seemed to be quite peacefully co-existing. (Photo is intentionally soft-focussed so that diners would be anonymous).

The food at the Save-On-Meats diner is very reasonably priced; $4 for a breakfast, $9 for a meatloaf lunch. The meatloaf lunch came with out of this world delicious mashed potatoes and french fries (I asked for a little sample of the fries just to see how they were).

Everything is made on site. The meat is cut upstairs, the potatoes are cut into french fries and the bread, cake, pies ($3 a slice) and even their ice cream is made on site! Believe it or not, a rooftop garden is in the works to help supply even more hyper-local food.

Save On Meats Burger
Save On Meats Burger

The classic Save-On-Meats burger also lives on. Because I had other foodie appointments for that afternoon I did not sample this burger but I can say that it looked like something you might find in burger heaven.

I will definitely be back to Save-On-Meats to sample more of the menu.


After leaving Save-On-Meats I walked over to the Gastown barbecue house, Peckinpah. I had not been in Peckinpah since the night before they opened to the public so I was anxious to see how things were going.

All reports are that things continue to go well. They have made some changes to the menu due to customer feedback but the spirit of the North-Carolina style BBQ is still respected.

One of the new sandwiches Peckinpah introduced was the Chopped Beef Po’boy made with double smoked beef brisket on French bread. They were looking for something to do with all the ends of the brisket when inspiration came to them; chop them up, smoke them again and make a po’boy. This is one of the sandwiches ($10.50) I look forward to sampling when I return to Peckinpah with an appetite.

After my visit with the people at Peckinpah, I walked back over to Hastings Street for a visit to the Acme Cafe. The Acme Cafe is an open kitchen bistro like place with super friendly staff.

Acme Cafe Apple Pie
Acme Cafe Apple Pie

Because I had already lunched at the Save-On-Meats cafe I only had room for a piece of pie with a scoop of ice-cream.

I have to admit, I was under-whelmed by the pie. The flavour was very good but not memorable. And there was only one very small scoop of ice cream. At just pennies under $6 I would not eat this pie again. This is especially true when I consider that Save-On-Meats, just a couple doors along sells a slice of pie with ice-cream made in house, for $3.

It was a wonderful day of food and conversation. I will have to return to Save-On-Meats and Peckinpah when I have another afternoon off. The Save-On-Meats burger and the Chopped Beef Po’boy are large on my radar for sampling. I will report out as soon as I have had the time to sample these items.

Disclosure; I have received no incentive or financial reward (I paid $9.50 before tip for my lunch) for writing this blog entry. I am not obligated nor expected to write this blog entry about Vancouver’s Save-On-Meats, Peckinpah or the Acme Cafe. In any blog post I write or publish on my site, I retain editorial control at all times. Should you have any questions or concerns, contact me at