Injecting meat with water, salt, and other ingredients before cooking is a common method for making it juicy and flavorful. It can also be used to help retain moisture in the meat during cooking or to add flavor.
Some people argue that injecting meat is worth it because of all the benefits, while others say it’s not worth the effort. We’ll take a look at both sides of this debate so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you should inject your next hunk of beef!
Is Injecting Meat Worth It?
Injecting meat is definitely worth it, for certain meats as it will ensure much juicier, flavorful, and more tender meat. It’s marinating meat from the inside by infusing the meat with spices, juices, broth and etc.
As grillers, we cook foods at different temperatures which can cause meats to become dry, and tough. Injecting meat is not a new technique, but it has recently become more popular.
If you’ve ever wondered what are the benefits are, you’ll find the pros and cons of injecting meat before cooking them.
The biggest benefit of injecting meat is the added flavor injected into the meat. Injecting juices or other flavorings into the cut of meat spreads across deeper inside the meat instead of just outside.
It has been argued that injecting the marinade into the meat will actually provide you with an evenly flavored roast, which you can’t accomplish otherwise. This is because you are injecting it right into the muscles where the flavor is evenly distributed throughout.
Marinades won’t penetrate more than just an eighth of an inch below the surface.
The amount of flavor produced will depend on the type of liquid injected into the meat.
More Moisture & Flavor
No one likes to eat dry chicken, pork, or beef. Injecting the meat before putting it on the grill is one of the best ways to ensure every bite is moist.
Grocery stores have injected meats with water, salts, and chemicals to help flavor the meats for consumers. This is known as enhanced marination and is commonly used for turkeys and hams.
According to the chief operating officer of Pine Ridge Farms in Des Moines, it ensures a pleasurable eating experience if the meat regardless of how the meat is cooked.
Larger cuts of meat that are cooked on low and slow work best with injecting.
Brines and marinading require more time (sometimes 24 hours) to penetrate the meat before cooking. Injecting is instantaneously and penetrates the meat immediately. On average you can smoke or cook the meat about five minutes after injecting.
Some people believe that injecting the meat before vacuum sealing helps pull the marinade deeper into the meat. While others say that it helps with preserving the meat.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any science behind this. If you feel it helps your meat taster better, then feel free to inject it before vacuum sealing it. Just make sure to use a food vacuum with a vacuum marinator that you can hook up to the sealer.
Otherwise, the suction from the vacuum will squeeze the liquid out of the cut of meat.
The biggest con of injecting meat is you run a higher risk of bacteria. While not very common, it is possible to push bacteria into the meat when you poke holes in it.
To avoid contamination, wash and dry the meat prior to injecting. Bacteria is a small concern when dealing with any type of food, especially meat. However, it’s not something that happens often as the cooking process tends to kill any bacteria.
Most thick cuts of meat sit in the “danger zone” for more than 3 hours in the smoker. But there are very few bacteria toxins (botulism) that are not broken down when exposed to heat and oxygen.
Injecting meat before you cook can be a very useful tool if you know what you are doing.
This does not mean that you should do this step blindly though because you run the risk of contaminating your meal with harmful bacteria which could make you sick! It’s always better to err on the side of caution and go slowly with this step.
Doesn’t Work for All Meats
While it’s possible to inject any cut of meat, injecting liquids works best with larger, lean, and bland cuts of meat. Be sure to read this article if you want to find out which meats work best with injecting.
You can end up drying out your meat and you may inject too much marinade which might make it all fall off when you pull it down from the heat.
The acid in the injection has a good amount of salt, vinegar, etc. High levels of acidity can quickly break down the proteins collagen causing it to become too tender or mushy.
It’s really important that you be careful with this step because if you do it wrong you’re going to have a very expensive, dry meal that has a high concentration of acid.
There are many reasons to inject meat before cooking it, the biggest is enhanced flavor. However, you have to consider what you are injecting it with and whether you want those ingredients in your food.
The pros outweigh the cons when it comes to injecting meat before cooking it but you need to weigh all your options carefully.
Some people do not like the taste of meats injected with marinades so this is something you’re going to have to test first and see which you like better!