Unlike marinades which take time to fully penetrate the meat, injections are a quick way to introduce a whole new level of flavor to bigger cuts of meat such as pork picnics and pork butts (collectively referred to as the pork shoulder).
When creating your injection, try to stick with flavors that complement and don’t overwhelm the particular cut of meat (apple works well with pork for example so the use of apple juice and/or apple cider vinegar works well).
If using dry ingredients such as rubs or ground peppers and spices, make sure that they are fully dissolved before injecting in to the meat as they can clog the injection needle. Also, darker ingredients such as soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce can leave streaks in the meat which may be alright for friends and family but can cost precious points in a barbecue competition.
There are also various flavor and moisture enhancers available in the market from such manufacturers as FAB and Butchers, though I tend to limit their use to the contest scene. The real key, however, is to play with different existing recipes and find ones that really speak to your personal flavor profile. Once created, inject the mixture evenly throughout the shoulder using a BBQ marinade injector such as the one found here or in the grilling aisle of most major hardware stores.
To get you started on your road to flavor discovery, here’s a recipe for a basic pork shoulder injection.
- 3 cups Apple Juice
- 1 cup water
- ½ Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ tbsp garlic salt
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 cubes pork bouillon
Mix ingredients in a pot over medium high heat and bring to a simmer while stirring frequently to blend. Remove from the heat and allow the injection to cool completely before injecting in to raw meat.
To inject, fill the injector by placing the tip of the needle in to the liquid and pulling back on the plunger until full. Insert the needle in to the meat, inject the liquid in to the shoulder by pushing down on the plunger, and slowly pull the needle out in order to maximize each injection. Repeat in various portions of the shoulder until injection is evenly dispersed. (note: be aware that the shoulder can spring a leak while injecting so I tend to do mine outside, thereby avoiding a post injection cleanup of kitchen walls, floors and ceilings).
Recipe by Clint Cantwell, courtesy of Kingsford.com