Smokin’ MAK

Posted: June 1, 2010 in BBQ, Grilling, MAK Grills

5-17-18 – New MAK Flame zone

OK, so this has been out since 2017, I just got with the program.  The funny thing is – when I got my 2 Star eight years ago, the one major complaint I had was the heat ceiling and poor sear.  Over the years, MAK let me test different flame zones – each better than the last.  But it took a friend and coworker getting a 2018 2 Star that made me start thinking about the ultimate upgrade.

So as my friend was picking up his MAK at HQ, I was there picking up my flame zone upgrade.

Interesting new concept – dramatically different design than any I’ve used before.

11-21-17 – Sous Vide

Well, didn’t think I’d go this direction, but after reading about Sous Vide, I decided to take the plunge.

Sous Vide, for the uninitiated, is a French term meaning “under vacuum”.  it consists of a device designed to heat water to a precise temperature and maintain that temp, while submerging the food to be cooked in vacuum sealed bags.

There are a number of advantages to this style of cooking, but I’ll focus on meat for now.  If you like your steaks medium rare, around 131 degrees, you know to get that temp in the middle, you end up with a gradient of colors from pink to grey to brown – where the meat closest tot he heat source is actually overcooked.  This also results in the meat being tougher nearer the heat, and the inevitable rest required to “redistribute” the juices after cooking.

Enter Sous Vide.  Buy cooking the meat at a precise 131 degrees, you get a uniform pink all the way through.  Cooking couldn’t be easier either.  Salt the meat, vacuum bag it (or ziplock with displacement method), and drop it in the water.  In 2 hours you remove the meat, pat dry, season, and sear all sides in a skillet.  The result will be along the lines of what you see below – which was arguably the most perfectly cooked steak I have ever had.

I intend to explore options for combining smoking and sous vide to create the ultimate flavor/texture combination.  Most likely, I’ll do a Prime Rib this way for Christmas (results to be posted to the Sous Vide page).

It is not too expensive to get into Sous Vide – $150 – $300.  So if you are looking to try something new, up your cooking game, and have some great food – give it a try!!


3-28-16 – New “FlashFire” igniter available from MAK Grills!

Per the MAK website: “Igniter failures are a thing of the past with FlashFire™ ignition!


This retrofit kit is for MAK Grill owners who want to experience the fast startup and longevity of FlashFire

The kit will include a new Flashfire Igniter, drillbit (to remove two (2) rivets), firepot and fuse. The installation is straightforward and easy.”

The listed price for this upgrade is $200, but that might be an easy to justify expense for anyone who has had a cook go sideways because the igniter wouldn’t ignite!


3-22-16 – Mini-MAK has been spotted in the wild!!

Anyone with a MAK has bemoaned the fact that the only “suitable” portable pellet grill was the Traeger.  Rumors have circulated for years about MAK coming out with their camping / tailgating model nicknamed “Mini-MAK”.  mini_MAK

Well, it isn’t rumor or conjecture anymore.  MAK won the coveted Vesta award (yes, again) for the Mini-MAK.  Shown to the left is a photo from the MAK Facebook page.  I’ll share more details as they become available!


3-22-16 – Southern BBQ tour-de-force

A recent business  trip gave me the unique opportunity to try BBQ in three different southern states in 5 days.

South Carolina –   “The Smokehouse” 34 Palmetto Bay Road:  Had a combo plate with brisket and ribs.  It was solid que, no complaints.

 Florida – “Jim-n-Nicks”: A chain I’ve visited before.  Great que, and thier hot links sausage is fantastic.  Had the sausage, brisket, and ribs combo.  Too much for me to eat this visit.

Missouri – “Pork and Pickle”, Kansas City Airport:  Typically wouldn’t be caught dead in an airport BBQ joint, but the smoke smell at the door told me they may be legit.  The sausage was tame – I prefer spicy.  I was surprised by the lack of sauce on the ribs and mine were a bit under-cooked.  The brisket was decent.  As a standalone BBQ joint I probably wouldn’t seek it out – but with a long layover and empty belly – it sure beat the other airport fare available.

3-2-16 – Slick’s Big Time BBQ

slicks IMG_1388

Losing weight (and keeping it off) is a chore, damn near impossible.  It IS impossible however, when a BBQ joint opens about a mile from your office.  Slick’s Big Time BBQ recently relocated to Wilsonville, Oregon.

Slicks is a relaxed, no-nonsense joint.  A big screen TV and good food.  Slicks uses a pellet smoker for all their BBQ – great smoke ring, no overpowering smoke flavor.

I recently had the ribs with brisket chili and corn bread as my sides.  The ribs were fall-off-the-bones; a little more than I typically cook (bite-off-the-bone), but they were tasty with good texture.  The brisket chili was flavorful, with some heat (without being overpowering).  The corn bread was good.

All-in-all,  will be back again (and again).  I just have to pace myself…

9425 SW Commerce Cir, Wilsonville, OR 97070



Consider this sufficient warning – Our friend “Meathead” Goldwyn over at is coming out with his own cookbook.  No review available (yet) as the release date for the book is May, but money needs to jump out of your wallet and get this book on order NOW!  Order it now at:



10-21-15 – High Cotton BBQ

high_cottonLocated in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I came across High Cotton, a local BBQ joint.  Anyone who knows me knows it’s pretty hard to get me to go to a BBQ joint more than once.  Most are just not worth the repeat visit.  High Cotton is – and I went twice in 2 days!  Excellent smoked meats – the pulled pork is Carolina style of course, and an added bonus: You could get fried chicken with any platter!  Well, I’m a fried chicken junkie, so I tried a couple different platters, both with fried chicken.  These were gut busters for sure, and I would not hesitate to go again next time I make it to the Outer Banks (which I hope to soon).

Check these pics out and judge for yourself if you think it’s worth a visit…


5320 N. Virginia Dare Trail
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


10-21-15 – Bam Bam’s BBQ – Orem, UT

On a recent business trip to Utah, an associate who promised me the best BBQ in Utah,  took me to Bam Bam’s.  A little different setting than other joints I’ve been in.  The staff was helpful, and threw in a little extra here and there.

I settled on some brisket, ribs, and two sausage links (jalapeno cheese) which they make themselves, and a side of their beans.  I don’t think the picture does it justice – it was a LOT of food.  The bark on the brisket was outrageous.  The sausage was juicy and flavorful.  The ribs were bite off the bone.  Apparently, if you call ahead, you can get “competition style” ribs.  I would have loved to try those, but we didn’t call ahead…

Overall a solid joint, one I would visit again on my next trip to Orem.


Bam Bam’s
1708 South State Street
Orem, UT 84058

divider10/21/15 – BBQ Pit Boys

You smell that?  Well, of course not – your’e on a website!  But if you could, it would smell guuuud.  Jumped on the BBQ Pit Boys bandwagon a while back and started a West Salem, OR chapter.  BPB4L!

BBQ Pit Boys


10/21/15 – MAK Grills 2-Star Cabinet Kitcabinet
MAK Grills has released a kit to upgrade the already stellar 2 Star.  A cabinet kit which encloses the lower portion of the 2 Star.  Keeps the elements, pets, etc. away from anything you store inside.  I know typically have one of my grease pans, my griddle, at least 1 half rack and one half upper rack hanging out there at any given time.  Plus it just looks damn sexy!

You know where to go to get this – or


10/21/15 – Vortex

vortexThe Vortex is a conical-shaped accessory for use in a kettle, kamado, or drum cooker. This device allows several different cooking options from super high-heat

searing, indirect, even can be used inverted in a kettle for beer can chicken.  When cooking on my drum, i love to cook indirect, then finish with a high-temp sear.  The Vortex has become my go-to tool for this, and it even reduces the amount of charcoal I need on an average cook.

You can get this at –


5/25/15 – Pulled Pork

Memorial Day means two things – Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, and BBQ.  Add to that a throw-down from my boss, who decided to challenge me to a Pulled Pork shootout!

I did a few things different this time around, but nothing dramatic.

  • Detached the money muscle from both butts.
  • Applied kosher salt on outside of the butts 24 hours prior to cooking.
  • Injected Cosmos pork injection 12 hours before cooking (see details below)
  • Rubbed with EVOO and a liberal coating of Meathead’s Memphis Dust (slightly modified – see recipe below)
  • Cooked at 250 for most of the cook, bumping to 275 to help get past the stall.
  • Lit a 12″ Amazin’ Smoker Tube full of 100% Hickory pellets and set it below the butts.
  • Served with a modified version of Meathead’s Kansas City style sauce (see recipe below).  I made this indoors, then put it in the smoker box on my MAK for a few hours to pick up some smoke flavor.
  • Served on Pub Buns with my version of “chow” (red & green bell peppers, jalapenos, and onions), the KC sauce and pepperjack cheese.


  • 3/4 Cup Cosmos Pork Injection
  • 3 cups Apple Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Memphis Dust

Not sure I liked the taste of the Cosmos.  If I inject in the future, I’ll probably make my own with apple juice, a little cider vinegar, some rub or other seasonings.

Rub (modified version of Meathead’s Memphis Dust from

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar in the raw ( I prefer this to white sugar.  More molasses flavor, and larger crystals improve the bark).
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dave’s Insanity Spice (this adds a touch of heat)

Because the butts were salted 24 hours before cooking, there is no added salt in this rub.  If you wish to use this as a standalone rub, you’ll want to add 3/4 cup of sea salt or more to taste.  I prefer coarse ground sea salt on butts because it dissolves slower and adds tot he bark.  For ribs, I’d use a fine ground sea salt.

Sauce (Modified version of Meadhead’s KC-Style Sauce from

  • 2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup yellow ballpark-style mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (adjust to taste)
  • 1/3 cup Bord-o-lay sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup A1 Steak Sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 1/2  cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 medium cloves of garlic,  minced
  • 2 ounces Captain Morgan Black Rum (just because)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dave’s Insanity Spice (this adds a touch of heat)

After making this sauce, I put the pan in the smoker drawer on my MAK for a few hours to pick-up smoke flavor.  It sure made a difference!


About SmokinMAK

I love BBQ, but like most Americans, really only grilled.  I had tried cooking low-and-slow with my Weber Kettle but couldn’t control the temperature the way I wanted to get consistently good results.  Turns out –  I had the TASTE for BBQ, just not the PATIENCE.

In 2010 I went over to the darkside – Pellet cooking!  I bought a MAK 2 Star General Pellet Cooker in June 2010 and started expanding my BBQ knowledge and skills.  The pellet cooker helps take some of the black magic out of BBQ, making it almost a hands-off experience, and it imparts an incredible wood smoke flavor to everything you cook.

In June 2014 I built a Drum Smoker and continued my journey to learn more about BBQ..

My hope is to be a source of information for others that are looking to make the move to pellet cookers, or drum smokers.