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Convenience, cleaning and burgers

IdahoJim

New member
I have been obsessing (really, I mean it) over what to buy to replace our 10+ year old Treager Lil' Tex for the last couple of weeks. I bought a Thermoworks Smoke last year and using it I am starting to realize how inaccurate and inconsistent the temps are on our old Traeger. It's also slow to get hot, doesn't get very hot and I hate the lid stop mechanism, which has failed a few times resulting in an unpleasant surprise and an interesting curve to our lid. It's just time to replace it with something newer and shinier.

We grill more than smoke, but I do enjoy smoking 2 or 3 racks of ribs, pulled pork, an occasional tri-tip etc. However, we do a lot more burgers, dogs, brats, chicken thighs and steaks. Currently we are doing this all on the old Traeger. I have an old (~50 years old) Charmglow HEJ grill my dad bought sitting on our patio, but I haven't hooked it up to the natural gas at the new house we moved into 5 1/2 years ago. Thinking of getting rid of it to clean up the patio. We use the Traeger year round. I'm in Boise, and it get's cold in the winter here.

Like many before me, I have narrowed down my choice to either a Memphis Grill or a MAK. The wife does not like the looks of the MAK 1 Star General, so for a MAK it would be the 2 Star General. Today, I went to a local shop that used to carry the MAKs (wish they still did) and saw a couple of Memphis grills that they are closing out, discounting by $500. They have the Pro and the Advantage. I frankly prefer many things on the Advantage, including the upper rack layout, the design of the lid hinge and the pellet hopper in the front.

Through my exhaustive searches on the many MAK vs Memphis threads, there has been little or no talk about three important topics to me; convenience, cleaning and burgers. So, I would love some feedback on these three topics in regards to a Memphis Advantage or Pro, vs the MAK 2 Star General.

Convenience:
I am lazy. I admit it. I want something that's easy to use, easy to change configurations on (if necessary) and easy to clean. The Memphis Genie tool seems to make configuration changes (e.g. to direct flame for searing) easy. It appears MAK had a similar tool but it no longer works on the latest Flame Zone. I also think I wouldn't need additional grill grates or searing grates on the Memphis for when we a cooking 2 - 4 steaks.

Cleaning:
I HATE cleaning our old Traeger. I need to remove the dirty grill, remove the dirty drip pan, remove the dirty deflector and then vacuum out all the ash. We also foil the drip pan and changing the foil is a nasty job. I would be ashamed to have anyone here see the foil I have pulled off of that thing.

So, which is easier to clean between the Memphis and MAK? One thread mentioned that you need a vacuum for the Memphis and not for the MAK. That is not a concern for me since we have a "BucketHead" shop vac just for outdoor jobs like the grill and the shed. To me, the bigger concern is the effort to get at things like the burn pot. It seems to me that the Memphis, with it's pull out pans and easy access to the burn pot would make most of the cleaning easier. Is this a good assumption?

Burgers:
OK, these pellet "grills" are primarily smokers, but we use ours as a grill. There is so little talk about cooking burgers here. Between the MAK and the Memphis, which will be best for cooking a big old pile of burgers for a summer back yard barbecue? I see so many mentions that the Memphis is more of of a grill. Is that just because of the higher temps it can do? The direct flame insert doesn't help me when I want to fill the grill with burgers. So, without the direct flame insert, is the Memphis better or worse at grilling up some burgers, dogs and brats than the MAK with the Fire Zone covers removed?

Cost:
OK, this wasn't one of the the 3 things I listed. I can afford either option, but I need to justify the expense to myself. I am not a competitive cook. I am not even that serious about it. I just want to make some good food for me, my family and my friends. With the closeout pricing, I can get the Memphis Advantage for well over $1000 less than a comparably equipped (WiFi, cabinet door, front shelf) MAK 2 Star. Is the MAK worth over $1000 more than a Memphis Advantage?


Sorry about how long this is. My brain literally hurts from this. I am losing sleep. I need to make a decision or go insane. I would appreciate any help in making this decision. Thank you all for all the amazing info I've already found here.
 

sschorr

Member
I am very empathetic to your decision struggle. I went through the same, agonizing mental wrestling earlier this year between a MAK 2 Star or the Memphis Pro. Both are great pellet smokers/grills. I went with the MAK 2 Star and have been very happy. To your concerns:

1. The Memphis does hit higher temps for grilling. However, the direct insert is 9" x 9", so you do not get the full grate area for grilling. The MAK does not get as hot, but gets plenty hot for grilling with the two FZ covers removed, exposing a lot more grate area to direct heat. The MAK really does a great job grilling. Burgers, steaks, chicken, brats, fajita meats (flap, London broil, etc.), pork chops - you name, the MAK will grill it. If you do smoke foods, and really want a stronger smoke profile to your cooks, then the MAK is a better choice.

2. Cleaning: I do not have the Memphis, but from what I can see (I looked at one at a dealer during my decision process), it is slightly, and I mean slightly, easier to get to the fire pot. However, you do need to vacuum it out whereas the MAK's is removable. Internal ash is easily swept into the MAK's grease tray as well. Also, the Memphis requires scooping unused pellets out the hopper, while the MAK has a pellet dump. Not a big deal if you keep your pellets in the grill and do not swap pellet types often - I do dump them after every cook. the MAK does have a pull-out grease tray, just not as big as the two Memphis pans.

3. No front shelf on the Memphis. I learned that I really appreciate having that using my prior Camp Chef DLX. the MAK has one, although I wish it was a deeper/larger (only 9", would have preferred 12"-18" myself).

4. The Memphis Wifi app is superior - in fact, the MAK uses a browser-based interface, no App per se. However, I find that I mostly use Wifi for monitoring, just in case of any issues with the cook. Even though I thought I would, I do not use any cooking "programs". However, the Wifi is really unnecessary for grilling.

Hope this helps! I think you would be happy with either from a cooking standpoint. And the Memphis does win the "looks" department. Good luck!
 

IdahoJim

New member
We just went to look at a Memphis Pro today. I really do like the quick access to the fire box, the Genie tool and the pullout drip trays. He just scooped the hot pellets out and let them fall into the tray. It also started right back up after he did that.

I am looking at the Advantage, because I like the hood and upper racks better than the Pro. It also has the hopper in the front so we get a front shelf.

After talking with the wife, I think I am going to go and try to buy the closeout one I saw earlier. I hope it is still there. For about $2000, it will do all we want and be a big upgrade from our old Traeger. It will also be about $1000 or more less expensive than the MAK.
 

IdahoJim

New member
Just paid for the closeout Memphis Grills Advantage Plus this morning. $2199 plus tax. Bought the meat probe with a 15% discount. That should be all we need except for pellets, food and time to enjoy it :) Will pick it up after work today or later this week.

Oh... and Memphis Grills is running a promotion until December 31st. Free grate kit with a grill purchase. I'll get that going and then have 2 upper grates.
 
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scooter

Moderator
Congratulations on your purchase! You were deciding between two quality grills and couldn't really go wrong with either of them!
 

audiojan

New member
I was in the same boat between the MAK 2 Star and the Memphis Pro. I was almost ready to pull the trigger on the Pro as it does get hotter (I do intend to use it as a grill in addition to a smoker), but after lots of reading, the grate temperature (which is what's really of interest) does get well over 600F on the MAK, which would give a really good sear.

It simply came down to the functionality between the two as both are outstanding choices. MAK is supposed to be a slightly better smoker (plus the cold smoking drawer is something I know I will use) and I do like the idea of being able to pull out the fire box for easy cleaning.

Either way, I'm certain you'd be VERY happy with whichever you choose.
 

IdahoJim

New member
Well, we've had a few chances to use the new Memphis Advantage grill. First was the ham for Thanksgiving. Unforrtunately, I was struggling cleaning tape residue off some parts and started it late. Had to rush it and it was still late. Harumph.

Tuesday I did my first attempt at reverse seared steaks. Wife loved it. Stepson thought it was a little burnt. I thought the flame grilling finish really added some good flavor. Took a while though. Didn't end up eating until almost 8:00. Reverese seared steaks may have to be a weekend thing. Here's a couple of pics.

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Also did some chicken thighs last night. Started them at 325. Bumped them up to 350 after about 10 minutes and to 375 after that. Next time we'll start them at 375 or 400. I was impressed that the temp, according to the grill, made those changes pretty quickly without any overshoot. Still need to put the Thermoworks Smoke air probe in there to see how honest the grill display is.

So far, I'm really happy with this as an upgrade from the old Traeger. Need to do some ribs on it to really get a good test/taste :)
 
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IdahoJim

New member
Here's the new Memphis Advantage (cooking pork back ribs!) surrounded by the old Traeger and the ancient CharmGlow:

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IdahoJim

New member
Tonight's ribs. Could have used another 30 minutes to an hour to get a bit softer. I need to figure out the timing of the new grill, and how to plan stuff to finish early and hold it. Seems the wife is always asking "when will it be done?"...

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IdahoJim

New member
Oh, and here's some video of searing the steaks over the direct flame insert. Flame almost got out of control. Had to move the steaks to the side to calm it down.

[video]https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipN9YpiDCY3hd1bPKMM3KQbuGlj52siWZf-eAiu1AZFgAXcQg8dojR8SMia34bOZXA/photo/AF1QipOkG8l9y57-Mtl9XTY9WomN8uWwRHV5ZJF9YSgD?key=a3l2a1FTczJqWHpwT jI2NHZ1Yk55T01nN05SbWtB[/video]
 

IdahoJim

New member
Made a prime rib for Christmas (actually December 27th). Best one we've made at home. Got lots of compliments. Cooked on the Memphis Advantage for about 4 hours at 235 and pulled it at about 125 degrees. Let it rest for about 30 minutes. It pushed to about 135 degrees during the rest. Cranked the Memphis up to 500 and seared it for about 7 or 8 minutes. Here's the proof :)

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