Well, I've cooked steak and chicken (skinless) so far and flare ups have not been an issue.  The true test will be when I get to burgers.  Truth is, I guess every hunk of meat does not have to be over the flame for the whole cook.  The zones give me options - and I like options!!!!!

Flare-ups are definitely something to be concerned about especially with steaks, burgers, etc.  I have learned that cooking time on the direct grill side should be very quick.  In general, I go 2 minutes > quarter turn > 2 minutes > flip > 2 minutes > quarter turn > 2 minutes > finish on indirect side

This provides an excellent cross hatch sear on steaks chops, chicken breasts, etc.

That first 8 minutes can be pretty hectic, very hot and smoky but then once you go to the indirect side it is a bit more laid back.

I did a couple more steaks tonight at about 550.  They had a lot of fat and 550 was way too hot for them.  They were done in about a minute a side, because they were not very thick.  It seemed to handle the grease well dripping on the flames.  But I think I'm seeing smoke come out between the firewall and the pellet reservoir.   I hope fire is not creeping up the pellet auger.

i very quickly learned that for me there is absolutely no time when temp set above 450 is appropriate.  you get just as good cross hatch sear lines at 450 and you have a bit more time to make the process manageable.  If you don't quite get up to desired internal temp before completely charring the steak then finish it off on the indirect side.

I've become comfortable with the smoke leaking back through the pellet hopper.  It was a bit disconcerting at first, but after a hundred hours or so of this happening with no catastrophic results I am now at peace with it.

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