Take your meat’s flavor to the next level with a meat injector. This method is fairly straight forward: instead of flavoring the surface of the meat, with marinades and rubs, inject flavor via a large, food-grade syringe and needle designed to penetrate muscle fibers, delivering flavor and tenderizing meat in a matter of minutes.
Deciding what to put in your meat marinade injector is a matter of personal preference. You can use all types of herbs, spices, sauces, and seasonings that will boost that delicious BBQ flavor from the inside out. Read below and learn how to use a meat injector. Get ready to bring more flavor to your next backyard or tailgate grilling session!
Why Use a Meat Injector?
Traditional meat marination works for thinner portions, but larger cuts with more substance can end up with flavorless centers. By injecting flavorful ingredients deep inside the meat, you can create delicious meals in just a few minutes. Meat marinade injectors are common around the holidays when turkeys and chickens need a tasty lift, but they work well on every type of meat. Other good candidates include whole hogs, hams, pork shoulders, and briskets. You should still season the outside of your meat as usual; the injections ensure your food packs flavor in every bite. Here are some marinade ideas for different types of meat:
- Pork: Since pork is (generally) lean, your goal is to lock in moisture. Apple and pork are a natural match, so include apple juice or apple cider vinegar and stock in your mix.
- Chicken/Turkey: Since the flavor is inherently mild, experiment with different flavor combinations like lemon juice, fresh herbs, minced garlic, melted butter, and beer.
- Beef: Since the protein is the star, brines and marinades should be more subdued. Such as beef stock, butter and kosher salt.
Making Meat-Injection Marinade
Liquid marinade for meat injections can include virtually any ingredient. The major players are broth or stock, melted butter, herbs, and seasonings. Worcestershire sauce is also a popular pick for its liquid umami flavoring. Experiment based off your personal tastes or use any of the easy injection marinade recipes listed below. The basic process for making the mixture is as follows:
- Mix the ingredients. If you need to do any prep work like mincing, now’s the time for that as well.
- Whisk, blend, or simmer to combine. Fully incorporate the flavors while also breaking down any non-liquid ingredients.
- Let the liquid marinade cool. Give the flavors time to meld at room temperature for a more robust mixture.
- Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. This eliminates any remaining chunks or gel that would clog the injector during use. This would require disassembly and cleaning.
Injecting Meat Marinade
Fully depress the plunger: Insert needle in the injector sauce. Pull the plunger back to fill the syringe with liquid. Work over a rimmed baking sheet or other container with sides.
Pick a starting spot: Plunge the needle deep in the meat, then depress the plunger slowly and steadily to deliver flavorful marinade to those hard-to-reach spots. As a rule of thumb, inject one ounce of brine or marinade per pound of meat.
Draw the plunger back: Do this slowly to prevent air from infiltrating the injector and messing with the mixture.
Pull the needle out slowly: Do not completely remove it from the meat; angle the needle in two or three directions using the same entry hole. Continue injecting until the liquid begins leaking from the holes, indicating the meat cannot hold any more. Reposition and repeat a few times before moving to another part of the meat.
Work your way across the meat. This will create pockets of flavor at a variety of depths and areas. Make sure not to hit the bone. When injecting a turkey or chicken with skin, puncture the skin as few times as possible.
For thinner slices of meat. Pork chops or chicken breasts, inject horizontally to disperse more marinade throughout. Complete your meat injection at least a few hours before cooking. The marinade will act as an internal brine; resting the food overnight is optimal.
Easy Flavor Injection Recipes
Try one of the following recipes to experiment with your meat injector. Get creative based on your personal preferences. You can incorporate wine, cognac or whiskey, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce or soy sauce. If you can combine it and squeeze it through a meat injector, then let it ride!