My traditionalist barbecue friends think injecting a pork shoulder or whole hog with brine or flavorings is heresy. The pitmasters of yesteryear certainly didn’t do it. But injecting is standard procedure on the barbecue cook-off circuit. Most competitors, like Chris Lily and Myron Mixon, use an apple juice-based injection. I have cooked up a lot of crazy injection brines including a Dublin Dr Pepper concoction.
When we prepare a whole hog at Foodways Texas BBQ Summer Camp at the Texas A&M Meat Science Department, we inject it with a sweetened brine. The salt helps the meat retain moisture. Myron Mixon uses MSG in his whole hog injection. Other competitors use nitrates, nitrites and similiar cures as well. That’s where I draw the line. No chemicals in my barbecue please.
You better not be opposed to injecting if you buy your pork and chicken at the grocery store. The enchanced meats in the supermarket are injected with salt, antioxidants, phosphate, water, and or other flavoring before we buy them. (The added water makes it more profitable.) You have to go to Sam’s or Costco to find meat that isn’t enhanced. That’s where barbecue cook-off competitors shop because the rules don’t allow enhanced meats in the competition.
So is injecting cheating? What do you think?