Add a little spiced smokiness to your barbecued pork butt with this smoke and spice pork injection marinade, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
There are few things more delicious than a properly smoked pork roast. Pork butts, or shoulders, are great cuts for low and slow cooking. However, there is always a chance that the meat will dry out; this is especially true for novice backyard cooks. Don't worry, though; there is a solution—a literal solution in the form of this smoke and spice pork injection marinade.
An injection marinade will help keep the meat moist on the inside while imparting a bit of extra flavor and maintaining an equal balance of moisture throughout. The key to a good marinade is to start with a bit of the rub you're using on the pork roast, then add a liquid to it. Make sure that any herbs used in the rub are not too bulky. This could impede the injection process. If possible, crush them up with a mortar and pestle before adding to the marinade. This smoke and spice pork injection rub does not require the use of herbs as it contains powdered spices for its flavor base.
Make-Ahead: Have a big cookout planned a day or two from now? Mix up this Smoke and Spice Pork Injection marinade and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Set it out for 30 minutes at room temperature before using. If the mixture has separated, give it a good shake before filling the syringe.
Food safety: Remember that once the injector makes contact with both the marinade and meat, any leftover marinade must be discarded, as it will become contaminated with bacteria, and could lead to a foodborne illness.
The Injector: You'll need a good quality meat injector for the job. There are many on the market, and I would like to share my recommendations. See below for details.
Smoke and Spice Pork Injection
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup water
- juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rub mixture used on meat
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper use less if desired; see instructions
- 1/4 teaspoon fine ground black pepper use less if desired; see instructions
- Simmer injection ingredients over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring often. If you are using a spicy rub that contains enough black pepper and cayenne pepper, you can reduce the amount or simply omit what is called for in the recipe. Remove mixture from heat and let it cool for 10-15 minutes before using.
- If preparing ahead of time, store unused mixture in the refrigerator for up to 5 days after preparation. Do not save any injection marinade that has come into contact with raw meat.
You can't use a meat injection if you don't have an injector. It is merely a syringe, often available at a decent price. However, you will need a good one. Below I have listed three models that are different in design. If you are doing a lot of injecting, then you want something with a pump action, versus the regular syringe style. When buying a meat injector, look for something easy to use, that fits comfortably in your hand, and can handle the volume you need.
Ofargo Marinade Injector
The Ofargo Marinade Injector is a classic style syringe. The marinade is sucked up through the needle and then pushed back into the meat. The needle on this model is large enough that it shouldn't clog. Still, make sure that your marinade is near water thin. It is an inexpensive unit that you can purchase for around $10. It is dishwasher safe and durable enough to last for several years. The volume on this injector is small, but it will handle most jobs for a single family.
Oklahoma Joe's Trigger Meat Injector
The Oklahoma Joe's Trigger Meat Injector is more of a marinade pump than a syringe. Dip the hose end into a container with your marinade, and the trigger mechanism pumps the solution into the meat on both strokes. This will make for faster injecting and is excellent for those that are doing more than a single, small roast. At around $30, you pay a little more, but it can handle a lot more injecting. It will save your hands if you have a lot to do.
Chop's Power Injection System
Do you need to inject a dozen whole pork shoulders? Then this is the system you need. The tank holds a gallon of injection solution. Pump up the pressure and start injecting. It is the system used by caterers and BBQ competition cooks. Easy on the hands, it will allow you to inject at lightning speed. Of course, it costs around $160, so this is really for those who make money on barbecue.