Discussion in 'Pork' started by kmitch007, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. I'm a newbie. Wanting to smoke a pork shoulder. Should I brine the shoulder prior to smoking, and should I inject it after the brine?
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Some do, many don't, preferring a heavy dry rub on the trimmed shoulder. Many feel injecting forces you to strictly adhere to the 40-140 within 4 hours rule. There will be numerous opinions on this question....Willie
  3. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    Chef is correct. Plenty of opinions on this subject. Here's mine , FWIW...

    To me , a pork butt or shoulder is already a juicy , flavorful hunk of meat just as you get it from the store. To be honest , i have not brined a butt , so i guess im not qualified to speak to that.
    I have injected a couple,though , and I can honestly say I saw no real difference. So now , I don't usually bother and everyone likes my pulled pork just fine.
    if you want to you should certainly try it to see if you like it.

    but if you just rub your first shoulder with a nice brown sugar based dry rub and smoke it , I think you'll find it's pretty good. Good luck.
  4. I agree with the others.  Some inject, some brine, some do both, some don't do anything.  I recommend you try it one way and then the other way and compare notes to see which one you and your family likes best.

    I like to soak a butt overnight in either a salt water based flavorful brine or Hard Apple Cider.  I have one soaking in Hard Cider now for tomorrow's cook.  I think it imparts a nice apple flavor deep in the meat.  I'll rub it prior to going on the pit with some oil and Bad Byron's Butt Rub.  I'll use apple wood as my smoke wood.

    I choose not to inject but Chris Lilly swears by it.  I don't like it because I think it makes a mess when it squirts injection juice back at me.  LOL
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  5. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BTW you don't need to do either way. You can always go old school, low and slow. It takes awhile but it sure is good.

    Make sure to take pictures so we can see how it went, we are always looking for inspiration, besides you could teach us something also.

    I'd suggest you take some notes so you can remember what you did and the end result. That way you can plan what to do the next time. Here's some samples other have used.

    Just remember, as a wizened old Guru around here says, "Patience" Butts are all about patience.

    Most important, is don't stress out, relax, center, and enjoy the smoke. Any day you smoke is a beautiful day.
  6. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My extensive experience with brining is that it adds flavor to the meat through and through, plus it denatures the protein (breaks down the structure), changing the texture of the meat giving it a smoother, uniform bite.  I actually prefer to brine turkeys, chickens, and pork because the meat is more forgiving of cooking errors and always comes out moist, delicious, and pleasing to the tongue.  I don't brine beef unless I'm going to make corned beef, then you need a special pink salt.  Marinating beef though can have the same results as brining.

    To answer your question directly, if the shoulder is brined for 18-24 hours with the flavor profile you desire I can't see any advantage at all to injecting unless you were trying to add a different flavor to the profile.   Skip the injection of a brined shoulder and use rubs instead to finish the flavor profile desired. 

    As others have said, you don't need to brine or inject, so try it all three ways and see which you and your guests prefer.
  7. Thanks for all the great tips, I look forward to showing pics of my shoulder if I get it right. It will be a work in progress for me but I have been bitten by the smoke bug and thanks to you guys I know the direction i'll be following. Thanks again.
  8. Thank you Foamheart for the log I never thought of it but it makes perfect sense especially for a newbie like myself.
  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have been smoking a long time, but I am a total newbie at brines and cures. You never know it all, but you get to cook more trying to learn.

    Enjoy your smoke....
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I look at it this way...Considering if you were going to Brine/Cure a Butt for a Cottage Ham it would take weeks for the brine to get into every inch of the meat...You gain little with a 24 or even 48 hour soak. The flavors of the brine will not get more than 1 inch into the meat. Poultry is another story, the muscle is much less dense and a fraction of the thickness so a 24 hour brine works wonders. If you want that flavor through and through, you need to Inject and then give a 24 hour rest. There is some risk of pushing bacteria into the meat so take some precautions like washing the meat and applying your Salty Rub before the injecting. It is then important to go from refer to smoker without warming the meat and monitor the smoker to make sure over the next 4-5 hours the temp does not dip below 225°F. This will get the IT of the meat up to 140°F or higher in a safe and timely manner...JJ
  11. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    The butts I have brined overnight have turned out much more flavorful than the non-brined pork butts. Not that pork isn't already flavorful but there is no denying that a soak in salt water (which is basically all I use) adds an extra dimension to the BBQ.  I'm not sure how far the brine penetrates while it's sitting in the fridge or the cooler but I can say that after smoking it has worked its magic through and through.

    I never thought that there would be any real advantage to brining but a buddy of mine kept telling me how good they turned out. Then one day I tried it.....needless to say that if I have the time the butt is going to get brined.
  12. Though it is true brines only penetrate a very thin layer of meat in an over night soak, brines are driven deep into meat during low temp cooking. This was demonstrated by the science advisor Dr. Greg Blonder. I recommend reading his findings and decide for yourself.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013

Share This Page