Inject Maximum Flavor Into Your Meat With A Trio Of Brines
While most marinades fall short when it comes to delivering flavor deep inside beef, pork, and poultry, these injection recipes really get the job done.
First of all, mix your injection in a non-reactive container.
When I inject I shoot for a brine that is about 2 to 4% salt by weight. I use Morton Coarse Kosher Salt. Remember, it is a different salinity than table salt or most other salts, even other kosher salts. It will diffuse to a lower concentration within the meat, enough to enhance flavor and bind water, but not enough to give the meat a cured flavor. Here is the math:Morton Coarse Kosher Salt weighs 15 grams/Tablespoon. The recipes below call for 2 Tablespoons Morton Coarse Kosher Salt or 30 grams total. 1 quart of water weighs 944 grams. 30/944 = 3.2%. Note that the Worcestershire has salt in it, so the final injection is probably closer to 3.5%.
If I add flavor, I try not to go crazy. You can add oils, herbs, spices, sweeteners, syrups, sauces, stocks, broths, colorings, pretty much anything. Fresh papaya or pineapple juice (not canned or bottled) have enzymes that tenderize. But be thoughtful. Do you really want your turkey to taste like Dr. Pepper? If you use herbs or spices, grind them fine. Don’t use dark liquids like soy sauce or Worcestershire on light colored meats like chicken or turkey. Don’t go crazy with sweeteners. Here are the recipes I use. To inject, we like heavy duty reusable injectors such as this Spitjack 2-ounce Injector Gun.
Here are several quick injectable brine recipes customized for different types of meat.
Servings: 1 quart
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Add umami. You can add 1/2 teaspoon of MSG such as Ac'cent.
Add herbs and spices. You can add herbs and spices such as garlic and pepper, but they can overwhelm the meat's natural flavor.
Add oil. After you have used a brine injection, if you want you can go back and inject a small amount of oil. You can't mix the oil with the brine since it floats to the top. If you don't have canola you can use another neutral flavored oil like corn oil. Olive oil can be strong flavored. You can try warm butter, but it tends to clog the needle when and form blobs in the bird when it hits the cold meat. The blobs disperse somewhat during cooking, however.
Prep. Mix all the ingredients in a bottle and shake vigorously before injecting. Pour into a narrow container so you can suck fluid in through the needle. In a wide bowl it is hard to get the holes below the water line and you then need to unscrew the top, pour it into the syringes, spill it everywhere, screw on the top, inject, and repeat. I bought a V-shaped flower vase for the job.
Inject. Insert the needle and go all the way to the center. Press the plunger slowly and ease the needle out. Insert the needle about every 1.5" apart and leave behind about 1 ounce per pound. A little liquid will follow the needle out of the hole, but if it comes spurting out, use less pressure. We want to avoid pockets of liquid.
Cook. You can cook right away, but if you let the meat rest for an hour or more, even overnight, the injection will disperse more evenly through the meat. Then dry the surface with a paper towel and apply your rub and cook.
Published On: 8/11/2013
Last Modified: 4/15/2021
Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.