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Burger flare up

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by Rmartinez2, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    Hey all... As some may know I recently got a pit boss pro series 1100 not sure that will matter much as I feel it may just happen on any pellet grill. Tonight I tried some 80/20 burgers. I made the patties about 1 in thick and the size was pretty decent in diameter, enough to fit well on the bun after shrinkage. Now I've cooked on charcoal and gas and propane grills and I know flare ups can get crazy when that 80/20 starts to render, I feel like I should have been ready to experience that but I just wasn't and when I opened the lid to flip I was greeted with a flare up that made my little one run and not wanna come back out (this bummed me out the most as I had to tend to the issue first as opposed to reassuring her everything was still ok).

    I preheated my grill at 350 per the manual and then moved it to 400 as I was planning on getting a good sear while cooking pretty fast. I set them on the main grates and tried to stay away from directly in the center as that gets hottttt. Anyway in retrospect Im not surprised it happened as that heat plate gets red orange hot so of course the moment grease hit it it was going to flame.

    Where did I go wrong here? Was the temp too high? Is this just normal for fattier cuts? Anyone else encounter this and any tips on combating it ?

    I was able to salvage the situation by moving the patties to the top shelf and I dropped the grill to 350. Perhaps 350 is the happy spot for this type of thing and anything above that is baking/searing territory. Idk...

    martin1950 likes this.
  2. SmokinVOLfan

    SmokinVOLfan Master of the Pit

    Not sure that I can help on the pellet grill side of things since I don’t have one but in general you gotta expect some flare ups as you mentioned. 80/20 is perfect for burgers but gotta keep a steady on on them to move them out of the hot spots when that happens. I’d do like you said get them close to temp and move then to the top rack to avoid any major flare ups and burnt meat
  3. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    Yeah I think next time we do burgers I'm going to try a few things. First, p setting...I saw a post where rcalan explained the p setting should be 1 when doing over 300*F so my p4 default may be the reason I'm seeing the size of flame in the firepot and thus causing that heat plate to glow orange the way it has been which will totally enable flame to result from grease. Second, I may just use the top rack at 350 to 425 for burgers this will allow them to cook and hopefully not get burned too badly by the flames. Then when close to desired temp I'll drop them down for a good sear.
    When you have flare ups and the lid is down, it creates a very thick smoke coming from I think the grease that's burning on the plate. Should I be concerned with this particular smoke or am I Ok?

    Third... I can just grill em old school with lid open and moving away from flame ups as they happen.
  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A Squirt Bottle of Water will quenching flare ups. Just keep an eye on the grease catcher. You need an overflow and mess. A short burst of white smoke won't hurt anything. Old school lid open, grill at highest setting, is a good idea as you have control before the fire gets out of hand...JJ
  5. mike243

    mike243 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I have never seen my heat plate turn red,coarse I don't run it over 350 much,I would run at lower temp so the grease will run down the plate as its supposed to instead of flaming,open grate to flame kiss them at the end.the oily smoke will coat the inside of the smoker and leave burgers tasting like a grease fire too.
  6. Ralph, thanks for the heads-up on the 80/20 burger-fire, they are on my short list. Guess I better look around for my top rack.
  7. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Safety is always first and any time you have grease it can flare up so always be cautious. Opening the lid will supply the needed oxygen to cause the flare up.

  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If the grill is not heated over 400°, you won't Sear the burgers, they just Bake. The surface will brown, eventually, but Well Done is the only option. The Pit Boss has the Slide Plate to expose the direct sear area that, they claim, will hit 1000°f. Thus is where the burgers should be seared then, if making thick burgers, moved to the sides to finish, melt cheese, etc. Any Grease hitting this area should vaporize instantly with out much flame. Is this how you are using the grill for burgers?...JJ
  9. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    I definitely got it up to 400 I think it was actually at 410 or so. I figured this would cook and brown them. I have done steaks and chicken where I cooked those at a lower smoke setting and once they hit a closer internal temp to what I wanted I turned th3 grill up and used the flame broil plate to sear.

    Ultimately I'm trying different methods for different meats to know how this functions. I've seen many people do burgers at 350 to 475 with the lid closed. It's possible they had the flare ups and of course the video won't always show that so it seemed I would have been able to do the same.
  10. RCAlan

    RCAlan Smoke Blower

    Your grills P4 default setting would have been fine... The problem You had was that your grills temp set to high for what you were trying to do and you didn’t keep an eye for grease spills especially over and near the fire pot. If You’re trying to do some simple direct grilling or searing, just set your grill at 300*-350* degrees and open the flame broiler slider... The flame from the fire pot will be quite visible, grill with the lid open, so you can keep an eye on everything. Also a good read for You in your owners manual is the Understanding of the P-Settings. The lower P setting numbers like P0-P2 are normally used during freezing cold weather cooks on Smoke mode to help prevent flame outs and high temp cooks. On those lower P-settings, there’s a more constant feed of the pellets into the fire pot, which helps prevent flame outs, but also can help generate more heat. But really though, You can just leave the P-setting on P-4 for most of your cooks if you’re cooking in decent weather with no problems to keep things simple and easy... I’ve learned ... after my original posting last year, that P0-P1 are really not necessary at all unless you’re cooking in freezing temperatures and even then, I would try P2-P3 first during your start up/preheating procedures. With each brand of Pellet Grill, You learn as you go and make changes as you learn your grill. I hope I didn’t confuse you.. Give that understanding of the P-Settings in your owners manual a good read and always make one adjustment at a time to help simplify things and to help prevent any issues from happening.

    PB Austin XL in SoCal and Always... Semper Fi
  11. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Master of the Pit

    I use to have a lot of these flares, but they didn't seem to happen every time. I finally realized that "80/20" ground beef may not be even close to what the label says. So, part of the problem may be that you have a lot more fat in the grind than what the butcher or market is telling you. If the grind gets too much fat, you are going to have flare-ups no matter what you do.

    Since I started grinding my own meat for burgers, I haven't had this problem. Before I began doing that, I solved the problem another way by buying burger ground beef from a butcher rather than Safeway or Luckys (our two local supermarkets).
  12. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    Good stuff guys. I'm going to try this again next weekend, I'm totally ok with grilling the burgers lid open style I was just trying to mimic what I had seen on many vids where ppl set them to 350 to 425 and close the lid and they get that nice reddish color with a little sear to go with it. Overall I will say they turned out great since ultimately what happened is they got seared really nicely then when I moved them to the top rack they essentially cooked to temp there.

    I'm not sure if I should start another thread but this also b4ings me to another topic... color. How do I get those nice ass color people get on their cools. When I made ribeye this was no issue as I knew I was going to sear them but when I made the chicken breasts, after all the vids I watched I expected my chicken to have this nice kinda golden to darkish browngold color and instead it was very lightly but the chicken had reached its temp. I fixed it by also giving it a quick sear but I'm just curious.

    Tonight I'll be doing top round or what is known as London broil. I plan on doing this at a lower temp to get some more smoke flavor is this one I'll just have to sear as well or should I start to see a nicer color based on the time it sits there? Do I just need to cook at higher temp? I've got a ton of questions guys and my apologies in advance if I'm going about asking them all wrong.
  13. bregent

    bregent Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    To get brown colors you need higher, browning temps. Many folks will do a reverse sear - smoke low till it reaches temps below the desired final temp, then sear. You can sear over flame, coal, torch, whatever, or crank the grill up high.

    You can do chicken breasts on the pellet grill, but the only ones that work well for me are bone in, skin on - otherwise they will dry out too much before getting browned.
  14. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    awesome this helps! I've totally been doing reverse sear. I actually use that method even on my charcoal i just put all the charcoal to one side and cook on the other then when im ready i throw a couple hand fulls in let that flame up and sear it. The chicken i tried didnt dry out luckily but the outher parts were definitely looking more dehydrated than i had expected. then i seared that and it was good very juicy thankfully (not a fan of cooking chicken breast personally). I'll need to try bone in and skin on. I also wanted to get a pack of just drumsticks and see how those turn out but i wasnt too keen on it after the chicken breasts i made. I'll have to go for it soon.
  15. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Master of the Pit

    If you are looking for ways to take your searing and "kick it up a notch," to use Emerill's catch phrase, Google "chimney starter searing." Most of the blogs and videos show doing this with a steak, but it would also work to finish a burger.
  16. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    oh man thats my favorite! i took one of those squared up style charcoal chimney and cut part of the bottom out as sometimes i like to get fancy and do 1.5 inch steaks i put that thing on top of my steak and DAAAMN! flip it and WAAAP! this is my kids favorite sear method.
  17. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The color is generally a combination of two reactions. Brown comes from the Maillard Reaction where meat protein Browns as it is heated. The reaction takes place very quickly, minutes, at high temps, 500+°F, all the way down to several hours at 225°F, low and slow Brisket. This Browning is not to be confused with Grill Marks. Grill Marks are the the rungs of the cooking grates Burning the meat, with a tiny bit of browning on the very edges. It is possible for burgers or steaks to have deep Grill Marks with the meat between the marks to be gray and tasteless. The Maillard Reaction creates hundreds of new flavors that run from sublime to that deep, rich Roast Beef flavor and aroma. The Burnt Grill Marks are one demential, not unlike the smell and taste of burning Carbon, that Charcoal Flavor.
    The second reaction takes place as the Nitrogen Dioxide in the wood smoke sets the red color in the Myoglobin of the meat. This reaction can be seen as a Smoke Ring in the surface 1/4" or so of the meat. The reddening on the very exterior of the meat combines with the browning of the Maillard Reaction to give that deep Mahogany color on Ribs and other meats high in Myoglobin.
    Different meat protein reacts differently. A Low and Slow Skinless Chicken Breast will gain very little color. Sear that Breast at 500° and it Browns nicely. High moisture meats, Fish, Shell Fish, react in a similar manner. Go Screaming Hot or eat Pale Fish...JJ
  18. retfr8flyr

    retfr8flyr Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    To reduce flareups get some Grill Grates https://www.grillgrate.com/ They work great putting a good sear on meat and really help reduce flareups. I really like mine.
  19. Rmartinez2

    Rmartinez2 Fire Starter

    U know I've always seen those and thought why would I wanna use them! But that totally makes sense man. I'll try them
    retfr8flyr likes this.