To many, beef brisket is the ultimate choice when it comes to cuts of meat to smoke. But, it can take some strategy and technique to do it properly. Using a brisket injection before smoking the meat is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep the beef moist and tender and enhance the flavor.
Of course, you could use a pre-made brisket injection marinade mix (like Butcher BBQ's Prime Brisket Injection from David Bouska, one of the Champion Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy). But, it can be fun to experiment with different flavor combinations by making your own homemade beef brisket injection.
In this article, we’ve outlined why you should be using an injection to begin with, some tips on making a homemade beef brisket injection, and a brisket injection recipe you can start with.
The key to good smoked meat is adequate moisture retention. But, with it being smoked slowly at warm temperatures, it can be especially vulnerable to drying out. This is especially true for a super lean cut of meat like beef brisket.
When smoking a brisket, the meat can quickly start to lose moisture. Injecting the meat can help compensate for this. Using a brisket injection helps get extra moisture and flavor deep into the inner layers of the meat quickly. It is actually a very easy process that won’t leave much cleanup at all.
Check out our article on how to inject brisket to learn more about the benefits of using a brisket injection and exactly how to do it the right way.
Source: Derrick Riches
Brisket injections can range from a very thin, water-like mixture to a thicker, heavier almost sauce-like consistency. No matter what kind of injection you are using, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep things simple.
You don’t want to lose the delicious natural taste of the beef. So, you only want to use ingredients and flavors that will complement the brisket. Some of the most commonly used ingredients in homemade beef brisket injections include things like:
Some brisket injection recipes also start to work in more creative ingredients like:
Along with keeping the ingredients simple, there are some additional tips to keep in mind when it comes to making a good homemade brisket injection that will yield good results. Here are a few things to remember:
Remember, your injection is going to have to pass through some small holes at the end of the needle of your meat injector. So, keep the injection thin enough to easily pass through without clogging things up.
Try and keep your injection between 1% and 2% salt content. Then it will still help tenderize the meat without being overly salty.
If you are going to smoke the brisket using wood as a fuel source (whether as the main fuel source or a flavoring source), DO NOT use liquid smoke in your brisket injection mixture. Doing so will result in an overly smoky, bitter flavor that could ruin your whole brisket. If you are using an electric or gas smoker and not heating up any wood chips in it, you may be able to get away with just a little bit of liquid smoke to add that flavor.
If you are also using a dry rub on the exterior of the brisket, make an injection that either has the same flavor profile or a complementary flavor profile of your rub. You don’t want to create a situation where there are too many flavors competing with each other in/on your brisket.
If you decide to use any solids as ingredients in your mixture, try and grind them as much as possible (ideally, into a fine powder) to reduce the chances of your injector clogging.
Heat your water or both (usually 2 cups of liquid is plenty) in a small saucepan over medium heat. But it’s very important not to let it boil, or even simmer. You just want it warm enough to easily dissolve the other ingredients. Allowing your injection mixture to boil can significantly change the flavor profile of certain ingredients.
After heating the liquid and mixing the ingredients, transfer it to a mixing bowl or tall glass. Then, put it in the fridge for several hours before you are ready to use it. Make sure to give it one last good stir right before you start injecting. Letting the injection stand before using it will ensure all of the ingredients are dissolved properly and thoroughly mixed.
Be patient and make sure any powdered or paste-like ingredients are fully dissolved into the liquid before you start trying to inject your brisket. The last thing you want to do is clog your injector or shoot a chunk of concentrated flavor into just one spot of the meat.
As a gauge for how much brisket injection you’ll need, you should have 1 ounce of liquid per 1 pound of meat. Remember, the meat/muscle is already close to 85% water, so it won’t take a lot of liquid injection.
If you are using a brisket injection that contains apple juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, or another ingredient that has high acidity, do not let your brisket sit for longer than 3 hours after it is injected before you cook it. Doing so can over-tenderize the meat and you’ll end up with a soggy, mushy hunk of meat.
If you are looking for a place to start when it comes to how to make a brisket injection, check out this simple, easy-to-make brisket injection recipe that perfectly complements the natural flavor of the meat with delicious umami:
Once you’ve tried a simple recipe like this, then you can make adjustments and additions of new flavors based on your taste. For example, adding ground thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf for an elevated savory profile. Or add brown sugar for a sweet and savory combo.
Now that you’ve got a good idea on how to make a homemade brisket injection you can use, go ahead and grab your meat injector and get going. Using an injection will help you achieve that juicy, tender, and deliciously-flavored slow-smoked brisket that you are after.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes and combinations of ingredients to find your favorite.
Do you have some more tips when it comes to making a homemade brisket injection? Did you recently try injecting a brisket for the first time? If so, leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear from you!
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