Soaking your meat in marinade is a time-consuming process that doesn’t always yield maximum flavor absorption, particularly with thicker cuts like pork shoulders. This is because the marinade can only get through several millimeters of meat on its own. And even though brines settle in much deeper, that takes days or even weeks. Injecting your meat with marinade is an excellent way to ensure that flavor penetrates your deeply, thoroughly, and quickly. You can think of it as marinating your meat from the inside.
Step 1: Get An Injector
Most meat injectors look like big versions of what you would find at a doctor’s office. You can find them in your local grocery store or on Amazon. The most common syringe sizes are two ounces or four ounces. Although there are larger injectors made for thick marinades such as pestos, the following instructions are for a needle injector as opposed to a spiked injector.
Step 2: Make Your Marinade
Making an injection marinade is similar to making any other type of marinade. There are just two main differences. The first is that if you are going to include dry ingredients like spices or black pepper, make sure that they are dissolved. Otherwise, you could end up with a clogged injection needle. Also, if you are planning to join a barbecue competition, be aware that darkly colored marinades with ingredients like soy sauce might give your meat stripes. Judges won’t like that.
It’s also important to take into account what flavors do and do not work with your particular meat. Apples taste delicious with pork, so apple cider vinegar is an excellent choice to incorporate into a pork shoulder marinade. Below is a recipe for an excellent pork butt marinade.
- 2 cups of apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoons of finely ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite dry rub seasoning
- A tiny bit of Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cups of lime juice
- 1/4 cups of pulpless orange juice
- 1 pork butt
Mix all of the ingredients together to make the marinade.
Step 3: Inject Your Meat
Put your pork butt in a dish and fill the injector with the marinade you have prepared. Inject the pork in a few different areas, sticking the needle halfway through the meat. If you have left over marinade, pour it onto the pork. Wrap the pork and place it in the refrigerator for at least three hours so that the flavors can soak into the meat.
Step 4: Grill
Using wood chips, heat your grill up to 275ºF. When the grill is ready, take your pork butt, shake off the remaining liquid, and put your favorite dry rub on it. Put it on the grill with the lean side down. Let it cook for five to six hours until tender.
- To fill up your injector, put the tip into the marinade, making sure that all holes are submerged. Some injector needles have multiple holes in the sides. Make sure that these are also submerged in the marinade before you drag back the plunger to avoid air bubbles.
- When you inject your meat, make sure that your needle is placed deep into the cut before pushing the plunger in at a steady and slow pace. Don’t go too fast! If you try to rush it, you may accidentally splash yourself with spurts of marinade.
- If you want to reduce the amount of holes you make on the surface of your meat, you can angle the needle in several different directions through the same surface entry point. You can keep injecting in the same hole until you see marinade leaking out.
Even though these instructions are geared towards pork, remember that the sky is the limit in terms of types of what you can inject and the types of meat you can try this technique with. Some ideas are whiskey, broth, soy sauce, hot sauce, butter, or even honey. If you’re using honey, you will need to warm it up first.
Types of meat that are great for injections include hams, pork shoulders and loins, beef roasts, and whole chickens or turkeys. I hope you enjoyed this article and that you experiment more with this wonderful technique. Leave a comment down below to share your experience!