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A brisket injection is a thin liquid that can be made from various ingredients and loaded into a large syringe — also called a meat injector when it is custom made for the purpose — and then injected into the center of the brisket to enhance the texture, flavor and moisture of the meat. An injection is a popular tactic used to make meat taste more unique and flavorful during barbecue competitions, although it also has found widespread use in home cooking. The actual liquid injected can be as simple as water and vinegar, or it can be a commercially available mixture made with a diverse blend of seasonings.
The process of performing a brisket injection involves loading a very large syringe with a certain amount of the prepared injection fluid. The brisket is usually injected just before it is cooked and is usually room temperature at the time. The needle is gently inserted into the meat until it is close to the center, and then a small amount of the liquid is injected inside. This process is repeated several times, ensuring that most areas of the meat have received some of the brisket injection. More of the liquid can be injected during the cooking process or added after cooking has completed.
The amount of liquid used for each injection needs to be fairly small. This is because forcing too much liquid into the brisket will cause it to simply rise up and flow back out the hole the needle made. Another consideration is that the meat will shrink while it is cooking and, if too much liquid is inside, the meat will actually squeeze it out, negating any beneficial effects the brisket injection might have had. One issue that can occur is known as puddling, in which the injected liquid rises out of the meat while it is cooking and forms a pool on the flat surface of the brisket, preventing it from browning while it cooks and ultimately wasting the fluid.
The composition of a brisket injection varies according to the exact effect desired by the chef. To enhance the beef flavor of the meat, beef broth and Worcestershire sauce can be used. If the goal is to make the meat tender, then vinegar, beer or an acidic fruit juice can be injected. When using a rub or mop sauce, some cooks inject those same spices into the meat instead of using a different solution. Almost any spice combination can be used as a brisket injection, although the taste could be very strong because it will not be muted by direct heat the way surface rubs are.
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