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

TentHunter

Moderator
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).
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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.
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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.
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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°).
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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:

TentHunter

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

KyNola

Member
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?
 

TentHunter

Moderator
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. :eek:


BTW I also got the Blank Pan insert for this new FlameZone kit. So I am not done testing reviewing yet! ;)
 
Last edited:
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:

TentHunter

Moderator
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.


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.
 

KJRsmoker

New member
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?
 

TentHunter

Moderator
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 DADDY

Moderator
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
 

jimsbarbecue

Moderator
Something to add on pellet consumption. We smoked a lot of bacon for a weekend music festival we go to every year. We used both our MAK grills one with the new flame zone one with the old one. I filled both close to full. When done the old flame zone was close to the bottom of the hopper. The new flame zone was close to half full. This wasn't meant to be a test. I was very surprised to see the difference.
 
Hey Cliff, the way you have your grill set up with the grates in the back and the griddle in the front. Can you put your full upper rack in place? Just in case you wanted to put say the steaks on the upper rack to rest while you were cooking? Just wondered. I know a 2 star would have the warming drawer to put them while you cooked.

Thanks!!
 

TentHunter

Moderator
Hey Cliff, the way you have your grill set up with the grates in the back and the griddle in the front. Can you put your full upper rack in place? Just in case you wanted to put say the steaks on the upper rack to rest while you were cooking? Just wondered. I know a 2 star would have the warming drawer to put them while you cooked.

Thanks!!


You could use one of the new bottom split grates (which come with the FlameZone kit) as an upper half rack to put the steaks on while the grill was cooling down. Otherwise you'd end up with overcooked steaks as the main chamber would just be too hot.

To be honest, though, we've never had to do this.

We normally time the cook so items that required longer cooking time are cooked FIRST, and the steaks are put on towards the end. When the steaks are done transfer them onto a warmed platter to rest while finishing other items, and bringing everything to the table.

If we need a little extra time, then we either lay a piece of foil over the steaks and cover them with a towel, or just place the platter of steaks back in the MAK (which is off and going through the cool-down). The residual heat is plenty to keep them warm while resting.

Hope this makes sense and answers your question! :)
 
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sschorr

Member
TentHunter,

I have another maybe off-the-wall question with the new FZ. Can you have the regular half-rack in the back with the cover over the FZ and one of MAK's grill grates (or even the regular half grate) in the front, with the FZ uncovered? Part of what I am asking is whether the regular grates and the MAK grill grates can be put together and are level with each other.

One of the dishes we love are fajitas using flap steak. I currently do these on my Weber gasser 4 burner - 2 left burners on full blast and only one right burner on medium-low. Put the peppers & onions in a veggie basket on the right, then when almost ready, quickly sear the marinated flap steak on the left, hot side. Also, this would reduce exposure to my arms while searing/grilling on the front.

I am looking hard at getting a MAK 2 Star to replace my Camp Chef and maybe even the gasser given all the great info here on the MAK's capabilities. I really don't want to get the MAK griddle as I have a 17" Blackstone portable that does just great.
 
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TentHunter

Moderator
Can you have the regular half-rack in the back with the cover over the FZ and one of MAK's grill grates (or even the regular half grate) in the front, with the FZ uncovered? Part of what I am asking is whether the regular grates and the MAK grill grates can be put together and are level with each other.

Yes you can use a regular half grate in combo with a searing grate, and/or griddle in any combination you like with no problems. And you can leave one FlameZone Cover on, and have the other off with no problems!


But no, the tops of the regular grates and searing grates do not sit level with each other. The searing grates are about 1" thicker (to capture more BTU's). We use them in combo quite often and it's never been an issue whatsoever. Some guys




One of the dishes we love are fajitas using flap steak. ...Also, this would reduce exposure to my arms while searing/grilling on the front.

I really don't want to get the MAK griddle as I have a 17" Blackstone portable that does just great.

The Blackstones are great, and everyone I know who has one love's 'em! But don't overlook the benefits with a MAK griddle.

If you like fajitas, the MAK Griddle lets you do it ALL on one grill like you do with your gasser! Grill the steaks on the back (FlameZone Cover removed) and the veggies in the MAK Griddle up front (FlameZone cover in place to reduce the heat). Meanwhile warm the tortillas, wrapped in foil, on a half rack up top! No need to even fire up the Blackstone.
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ALSO... you mentioned something that I LOVE about having the griddle up front; it shields your arms from the searing heat!


Similarly; how about some hot dogs along the back, while cooking chili up front in the griddle, and warming the buns up top on a half rack? Older 1 Star & FlameZone in this pic, but same idea.
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I could go on, but you get the idea!


Hope this helps!

Cliff
 
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