November is the month for preparing big meat hence worrying about flavor. Too much salt, not enough salt, not enough spice, do I need more butter consequently make us all nuts during the holidays. As a result, growing up watching Mom baste, season and inject her meats for perfection while cooking was a lesson well learned. Thanks Mom as I know you knew what your were doing in the kitchen. So I’m here to tell you one of the greatest inventions is probably flavor injectors. Make no mistake these handy kitchen tools have evolved with the ever-changing culinary world.
Whether you’re roasting, barbecuing or grilling look no further because I have your answer to adding more flavor and moisture to your meats. Think of using flavor injectors as a way to marinate from the inside out. First of all, spices, rubs, sauces and glazes sit on the outside of your meat therefore only flavoring the outside, yet that’s fine for steaks, chicken pieces and seafood like shrimp. Larger cuts like whole chicken, turkeys, beef, lamb, and pork roasts injecting is especially relevant.
Marinades penetrate only millimeters deep at best while brining or curing reach the middle but takes at least 24 hours to several days. However, brining takes up valuable real estate known as your refrigerator. So using flavor injectors deliver flavorful liquids to the center of your food within seconds.
Flavor Injectors are like oversize hypodermic needles. The syringe can be made of plastic or stainless steel with a 2 to 4 ounce capacity with holes in the needle when using broths, melted butter or other liquid seasonings. As a result for using thicker seasonings like pesto or thick paste sauces invest in flavor injectors with a wide mouth needle. They have a spike end for making deeper holes and better penetration.
Styles vary including injection guns with pistol grips, commercial injectors for smoking whole hogs with 2 to 2.5 gallon capacity. Since your cooking methods may vary, I recommend purchasing one with small holes and one with a spike end. Prices range $3.00 to $20.00 on average while fancier ones will cost more.
You ask what to use as your injection seasoning? In addition to broths, stocks, olive oil and melted butter, why not try whiskey, hot sauce, soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce to start. Maybe add some sweetness with fruit juices, honey, or maple syrup.
In conclusion, here are a few helpful tips:
- Let meat rest at least one hour before grilling, barbecuing, or roasting
- Wash injectors by hand after each use; no dishwasher
- Avoid coarse spices to keep needles from clogging; strain first
- Lubricate gasket on end of plunger with vegetable oil before and after each washing for ease of use
- Keep needles covered as not to dull the point
Most noteworthy, the next time your turkey, pork shoulder or beef roast needs an extra shot of flavor, invest in a flavor injector. It’s just what the doctor ordered.
Note: Look for disposable small injectors called Pipettes. These little marvels are used to inject liquors and flavorings into baked goods, seafood such as shrimp and fresh fruit. Mostly sold in packs of 25 or more really make entertaining fun.