2017 MAK  FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!
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2017 MAK  FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!
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Thread: 2017 MAK FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!

  1. #1

    2017 MAK FlameZone, Searing Grate & Griddle - Detailed Review!

    MAK Grills 2017 FlameZone Kit

    If you've been wondering about the new MAK 2017 FlameZone kit, how well it works, what comes with it, etc... wonder no more!

    Will it fit my MAK? Per MAK Grills: The new FlameZone kit is now standard with all 2017 MAK 2 Star Generals and will retrofit all previous 2 Stars as well as 2016 and newer 1 Star Generals.

    The FlameZone kit includes the new funnel section, diffuser plate, drip pan, covers and grates. All parts are made from 304 grade stainless steel. Installation is straight forward and requires no modification to your current grill:

    Remove the existing grates, drip pan & heat diffuser. Insert the funnel section (making sure it slants down to the right). Next insert the diffuser plate, followed by the drip pan (an "F" is embossed along the front edge to help with proper orientation).

    In the above photo you can see the new drip pan is not only slanted from left to right, but also beveled from the middle to the front & back to make grease drain-off easier.

    The covers can be put into place for indirect cooking, or removed as needed for direct grilling. The kit also includes two new split grates that are oriented from left to right to make removing the covers easier.

    Note: A good pair of heavy leather gloves will be needed if you want to remove a hot cover part-way through a cook!

    The new MAK Searing Grate & Griddle (optional - not included with the FlameZone) are also oriented left/right.
    A nice feature of this setup is the top of the griddle and searing grate are level to each other and the griddle offers some protection for your arms & hands from the direct heat when flipping steak, burgers, etc.





    Temperature Testing

    First, it's IMPORTANT to understand that the thermocouple (temp sensor) is positioned to read the average air temperature inside the grill for indirect cooking. With the FlameZone covers off the cooking grate is now exposed to direct heat, so the actual temperature at grate level will be considerably higher than what the MAK's temp sensor is reading!

    Note: This test was done using 100% Oak pellets. Ambient temperature: about 70 F.

    First, I made sure the MAK thermocouple and the pit probe for my Maverick ET732 were both clean (for accuracy). The Maverick pit probe was clipped about half way back on the left-hand side. The lid was closed and the MAK turned on to "Grill" mode (the highest setting).

    As I monitored the temperatures, as expected, the actual grate temperature climbed faster than the pit temperature being read by the MAK. It took about 15 1/2 minutes for the grate temperature to reach 500 F. The Maverick's temperature range reached its maximum (572) when the MAK read 460 (by time I snapped a picture, it read 465).



    Expected Grate Level Temps:
    Based on the test above, and the MAK's maximum 500 pit temperature, you can expect actual grate level temperatures in the range of 620+ F.
    Last edited by TentHunter; 10-05-2017 at 06:23 AM.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  2. #2
    Performance Testing (or... The Tasty Part)


    1) FlameZone W/MAK Searing Grate & Griddle

    We seasoned some 1 1/4" top sirloins, as well as some veggies & mushrooms with some Little Louie's.


    The steaks were grilled for about 4 1/2 - 5 minutes per side to in I.T of about 125. The veggies & mushrooms were tossed in the griddle with a little olive oil. IMPORTANT LESSON LEARNED - leave the FlameZone Covers in place underneath the griddle or it will get too hot!




    The results using the searing grate were outstanding. The steaks had the right amount of char for that grilled flavor without tasting burnt. The Griddle performed equally well giving a nice char to the veggies & mushrooms.





    2) FlameZone W/Regular Grates

    OK, so what about a REAL challenge using the regular grates? Tandoori style chicken fits the bill. It's marinated, so it's wet when it goes on, and since the marinade has no sugar, it won't caramelize easily! I honestly did NOT know how well this was going to work.

    After letting the grill heat up for 20 minutes or so, some boneless chicken thighs, marinated in a traditional Indian spicy yogurt mixture, were placed on the regular grates.


    Note to self: Next time use a longer set of tongs, and a pair of gloves when flipping the meat!


    The chicken had some nice char on the outside, was still very moist on the inside, and tasted just like they'd come from a Tandoor oven!






    Final Thoughts

    After a few cooks with the FlameZone here are a couple of important take-aways for me:

    ● When direct grilling with the FlameZone, IGNORE what the Pellet Boss is displaying, especially if you've just opened the lid. The actual grate temperatures are much hotter!

    ● The grill gets hot!!! BE SURE to use a longer set of tongs and/or some leather work gloves for hand/arm protection!

    ● With the new MAK FlameZone added to my 1 Star, I feel like I truly have an all-in-one smoker/grill combo.


    I Hope this was helpful. Thanks for indulging me!


    Cliff
    Last edited by TentHunter; 05-31-2018 at 02:25 PM.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  3. #3
    Cliff, thank you for the review. I have a couple of questions for you. I do not have the new set up yet but am seriously considering upgrading. Am I correct that if and when I purchase the upgrade that my current griddle will not be compatible with the new design? Also, I primarily use my MAK for smoking so is there an advantage to the new design for smoking that warrants the cost?
    Proud to own the 2012 MAK 2 Star General #829 and former owner of MAK 2 Star #27

  4. #4
    Larry,

    Y̶o̶u̶r̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶r̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶g̶r̶i̶d̶d̶l̶e̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶s̶t̶i̶l̶l̶ ̶w̶o̶r̶k̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶f̶e̶c̶t̶l̶y̶ ̶f̶i̶n̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶w̶ ̶s̶e̶t̶u̶p̶. Correction - see MAK Daddy's post below!

    Regarding smoking with the new design - One advantage I know of with this setup is it's suppose to make pellet usage a little more efficient.

    I will say that with this new FlameZone kit setup for direct grilling, I could NOT believe how hot and intense the heat was coming off the grill. After flipping the first row of the Tandoori style chicken (only three pieces), I literally had to pull my hand back and put some gloves on.


    BTW I also got the Blank Pan insert for this new FlameZone kit. So I am not done testing reviewing yet!
    Last edited by TentHunter; 05-01-2017 at 02:50 PM.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  5. #5
    Awesome review Cliff. It's still weird looking at the grill grates running in that direction. My eyes aren't used to it yet. Do you like it running that direction better than the griddle and the grates running I guess North and South instead of East to West? Also, is this the same setup on the 2 Star?
    Looking forward to the next test/review!!

    Thanks
    Last edited by wolverines; 04-29-2017 at 12:33 PM. Reason: forgot something

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by wolverines View Post
    Awesome review Cliff. It's still weird looking at the grill grates running in that direction. My eyes aren't used to it yet. Do you like it running that direction better than the griddle and the grates running I guess North and South instead of East to West?
    Thanks!

    Yes, I like the searing grate/griddle combo running left to right better, especially when they're both used in combo like you see pictured above. It's nice grilling the meat along the back while being able to stir veggies, chili, etc in the griddle up front. I can see this being used for many different cooks.


    Quote Originally Posted by wolverines View Post
    Also, is this the same setup on the 2 Star?
    Yes, the exact same kit fits all 2 Stars as well as all 2016 and newer 1 Stars.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TentHunter View Post

    BTW I also got the Blank Pan insert for this new FlameZone kit. So I am not done testing reviewing yet!
    I have a 2 Star and have been thinking about updating. I currently have a Blank Pan insert. Is the same Blank Pan insert used for the new FlameZone kit or do you have to buy an updated version?
    2016 MAK 2 Star #2817~Remote Boss

  8. #8
    Thanks Cliff!
    Proud to own the 2012 MAK 2 Star General #829 and former owner of MAK 2 Star #27

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by KJRsmoker View Post
    I have a 2 Star and have been thinking about updating. I currently have a Blank Pan insert. Is the same Blank Pan insert used for the new FlameZone kit or do you have to buy an updated version?
    They designed a new Blank Pan insert that's beveled just like the new FlameZone Drip Pan (I got one, haven't used it yet), so I don't know if the old one will fit or not. MAK or Big Poppa Smokers should be able to answer this.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by KyNola View Post
    Cliff, thank you for the review. I have a couple of questions for you. I do not have the new set up yet but am seriously considering upgrading. Am I correct that if and when I purchase the upgrade that my current griddle will not be compatible with the new design? Also, I primarily use my MAK for smoking so is there an advantage to the new design for smoking that warrants the cost?
    1) Your old griddle will not fit the new system (it's too deep).
    2) Yes you will get more smoke output at higher temps due to the decreased pellet consumption.

    Bob
    Superior Wood Pellet BBQ Smoker Grills!
    www.makgrills.com

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