Turkey is a type of low-fat meat, but highly nutritious. However, it is difficult to enjoy fried turkey dry without adding any flavor to it. Brining and injecting a turkey is one way to add low-calorie flavorings to help boost the tenderness and taste of deep-fried turkey with little effort. In this how-to guide, we are going to enlighten you on how to inject a turkey in six easy steps. Adding flavor and taste before frying turkey by either brining or injecting comes with its fair share of pros and cons which we would look into in this guide as well. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
Flavor Injecting Turkey: How to Inject and Brine a Turkey
Brining a turkey in simple terms means adding salt to the turkey. However, you can either apply the salt by either sprinkling it on the body of the turkey or by soaking the turkey in a salt solution (wet brining). Whichever bring method you decide to employ is a great way to add flavor and tenderize the meat. Wet brining uses an estimate of 5-8% salt, and for best results keeps your turkey cold, preferably at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the process. Dry brining works with the process of osmosis, as it brings the juice and moisture out of the meat as the salt dissolves into the meat. Brining is a similar process to marinating, except instead of adding flavor to the meat, it adds taste to your meat.
1. Advantages of Brining
The salt breaks down the protein strands in the meat, which over time makes the meat tender, as it absorbs the flavor and remains moist throughout the cooking period. However, as you brine your turkey, keep a close eye on it as you cook. Brined turkey tends to cook faster than ordinary turkey. Brining a turkey is also one of the fastest ways to add flavor to the meat since turkey does not have much fat to keep the meat moist during cooking.
2. Disadvantages of Brining
One of the major drawbacks of brining is that it is time-consuming. To get the best out of brined meat, it is best to leave the meat to rest for several hours to let the salt permeate the meat. It is often recommended to leave brined meat overnight or for several days. Another drawback with brining, especially wet brining is that it requires a lot of space, and often results in less juicy meat. Soaking the turkey in the saline causes the juice from the meat to be dissolved in the water as more saline water is absorbed.
Another ideal way to add not only taste but flavor to your turkey is by injecting it with the right liquid. This liquid may be a mixture of broth, melted butter, wine, maple syrup, bourbon, or any other water-soluble ingredients. It’s best to avoid coarse ingredients as they often clog the syringe. Instead of rubbing your turkey with spices, herbs, and butter, you can inject the flavor right into the meat, giving you better-tasting meat on every bite.
1. Advantages of Injecting
Injecting turkey is better than brining in the sense that you are injecting the liquid deep into the muscle tissue of the meat. Moreover, with injecting turkey, you spend less time adding flavor and taste to your meat than when you are brining. Unlike brining, injecting turkey does not cause your meat to be dry and tough, but soft and juicy. And because the juice is delivered under the skin, it helps to leave the skin crisper and darker than brining. One of the biggest advantages of injecting is the flexibility to vary the flavor and taste you can achieve, unlike the singular unique flavor of brining.
2. Disadvantages of Injecting
One of the obvious disadvantages of injecting turkey is the restriction of ingredients to only liquid. In other words, you can’t enjoy the luxury of injecting solid or coarsely grounded spices deep in your meat. Injecting turkey does not evenly distribute the liquid as brining would, causing some parts of the bird to be saturated and others dry. Not to even mention, the injector needle leaves a track mark in the turkey.
How to Inject a Turkey
Use these six easy steps to inject your turkey in no time.
Step 1: Mix the Injection Solution
The first thing you ought to do when to inject turkey before frying is to mix the injection solution. Prepare and mix the injection solution as a non-reactive container. The trick to ensuring all the ingredients mix well is to combine all the ingredients in a water bottle and shake it up before pouring it into the bowl. As a rough estimate, inject around 2 cups of injecting solution into an 8 to 12 pounds turkey.
Step 2: Prepare the Meat Injector
Next, pick up your meat injector and disassemble it. Make sure the injection needle is clean and make sure it is not clogged or having any food residue in it from last time use. Not only would it prevent the liquid from coming out, but also cause food safety problems as bacteria can quickly grow in meat residue. Grease the silicone o-ring with a food-grade oil to ease the push when injecting. Most meat injectors come with multiple needles, so choose the right size of needle that suits the cut of meat you are preparing. If the marinade contains chunks of garlic and grounded spices, use the thicker opening needle. But for a thinner marinade, use the needle with holes up the shaft.
Step 3: Fill the Injector
Screw up the injector and push the plunger several times to ensure it is free. Drip the needle into the marinade in a bowl and pull the plunger. If you have a clear injector, you’d see the marinade filling up the barrel of the syringe. If you are using the needle with holes up the shaft, you may need to tilt the bowl to avoid drawing up air.
Step4: Wrap Meat with Plastic Wrap
Before you inject the meat, wrap it in a piece of plastic wrap. This is to prevent creating so much mess while injecting the meat. Most time, while injecting especially when the meat is saturated can cause the liquid to squirt from the holes which can potentially hit the walls, counters, cabinets, etc.
Step 5: Turkey Injection
Choose a place to inject the meat solution and inject it. Don’t forget to inject in and around the bone as well. Injecting from the side can help ease the process because instead of injecting straight into the top of the meat you are aiming for the muscles instead. By doing this, you will not lose too much liquid as you deliver it into the muscle fibers.
Step 6: Allow to Rest
After injecting the meat, it is best to allow it to stand for a couple of hours to let the marinade permeate the muscle. You can even leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours before taking the turkey for frying.
To sum things up, it’s best to always add a touch of brine and injection to your turkey before frying. After all, a little bit more sometimes makes the difference. So, now that you know how to inject a turkey, never leave your turkey dry and bland while you fry or grill. Inject, brine, or both? Leave a comment below along with your experience with any of these processes.