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Pork butt injections?

6AM

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I'm going to smoke a pork butt to make pulled pork over the weekend for the millionth time and I was thinking about trying an injection to try something different. I'm not a fan of sugary meat, anyone have any suggestions as to what to inject?
 

chef jimmyj

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I have not Injected a butt, however, a Tangy Finishing Sauce should work nicely. Maybe mixed with some Apple Juice for balance rather than sweetness...JJ
 

thirdeye

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A pork butt, as in one butt? I usually do at least 2 or 3 because of the price. Maybe cook one for a neighbor just to show off your skills?

My pork butt injection takes a little bit of work, and some time.... but it's worth it. It's basically a smokey stock with some Coca-Cola (Mexican Coke is best) injected at 1 generous ounce per pound of butt. You start with a pack of pork neck bones, lightly season with at least salt/pepper/garlic or you can use a Montreal Steak seasoning. Smoke those bones for a couple of hours. Then put into a pressure cooker, or a stock pot.



For the pressure cooker, I add about 1.5" of water and 1 pint of pork base from concentrate (I use Minor's brand) and a bay leaf. If you can't locate pork base add extra water and plan on reducing your stock. Pressure cook for 40 minutes using natural release. You want your stock very "porky" because it's going to be cut with the Coke. In a stock pot this will work well too, it will just take longer to make your stock and cook it down. You will end up with a pot full of fall-off-the-bone goodness, the meat is excellent for snacking, or using for a pork stew, or neck bones & rice.... but you have to eat around the bones, there are a lot of them.


Remove the bones, and strain your stock. You can cook it down further at this point. When you like the porky flavor, allow it to cool a while, then add the Coca-Cola and chill. For injecting, the ratio I use is 60% broth and 40 % Coke. If you want it less sweet, just tickle those percentages until it's where you want it. So, if your butt is 10 pounds make at least a 16 ounce batch and you should be good. Extra stock can be mixed with the foil juices and used on the pulled pork for moistness. If you elect to pull the neck bone meat, it looks like this.



Your Favorite rub will work fine.

My Pork spray is : Apple Juice, Seasoned Salt, Worcestershire, Water (as needed to dilute the apple juice.) You want to add just enough seasoned salt to make the spray slightly salty to taste. I don't start spraying until hour 3 and the bark is setting up.
 

BartenderAL72

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My pork butt injection takes a little bit of work, and some time.... but it's worth it. It's basically a smokey stock with some Coca-Cola (Mexican Coke is best) injected at 1 generous ounce per pound of butt.

Remove the bones, and strain your stock. You can cook it down further at this point. When you like the porky flavor, allow it to cool a while, then add the Coca-Cola and chill. For injecting, the ratio I use is 60% broth and 40 % Coke. If you want it less sweet, just tickle those percentages until it's where you want it. So, if your butt is 10 pounds make at least a 16 ounce batch and you should be good. Extra stock can be mixed with the foil juices and used on the pulled pork for moistness. If you elect to pull the neck bone meat, it looks like this.

Your Favorite rub will work fine.

My Pork spray is : Apple Juice, Seasoned Salt, Worcestershire, Water (as needed to dilute the apple juice.) You want to add just enough seasoned salt to make the spray slightly salty to taste. I don't start spraying until hour 3 and the bark is setting up.
Hey Thirdeye: Please forgive me butting in on this thread. I have 2 questions. 1. Would you use this same injection for making pulled pork bbq sandwiches? 2. Why coke? You go to considerable effort to make this stock and then cut it with Coke? What's the coke do for your pork? If it's sweetness, couldn't you just add sugar to your stock? Does the Coke help tenderize the meat?
 

one eyed jack

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I'm with Chef Jimmy on this one. Never have injected a butt.

Chef Jimmy J has a great finishing sauce recipe, by the way. I use it often to great reviews.

Here is the Chef's recipe, quoted from a past thread.

2 C Apple Cider Vinegar
2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste
1/4C Brown Sugar
1T Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Granulated Garlic
2 tsp Granulated Onion
2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper
1 tsp Celery Salt
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Red Pepper Flake. Add more if you like Heat.
1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice
 

thirdeye

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Hey Thirdeye: Please forgive me butting in on this thread. I have 2 questions. 1. Would you use this same injection for making pulled pork bbq sandwiches? 2. Why coke? You go to considerable effort to make this stock and then cut it with Coke? What's the coke do for your pork? If it's sweetness, couldn't you just add sugar to your stock? Does the Coke help tenderize the meat?
Before so many commercial injections came on the scene, injecting chicken with chicken broth, (if you were not brining it) or injecting brisket with a beefy broth was common. But pork loins and butts were often injected with fruit juice, which is not a bad thing. But using a pork injection that already has a smokey, porky flavor to add flavor to a pork butt that you are smoking is a one-two punch.

To answer your questions:
1. I would use this injection before smoking the butt to add flavor to the inner meat. The smoke, surface fats combining with your rub and mop (or spray) will make the bark flavorful, but the inner meat is somewhat bland on it's own. So, if you are asking about a finishing sauce I would mix into pulled meat in order to serve it on a bun or Texas toast.... I would start with de-fatted foil juice, maybe add some sauce to that, and if I wanted to boost the "porky" flavor I might add some of the reserved injection.

2. Coke, after a few hours of cooking has a neutral flavor, but it is high in sugar. Mexican Coke is made with cane sugar, so that is a plus. Apple or apple/white grape is probably as sweet but apple juice is easier to detect. Many pork injections are sweet, and the sweet marries well with pork because many pork rubs are sweet, and many pork sauces are sweet. With only 40% of the injection being Coke, I don't think it has any tenderizing effect.
 

chef jimmyj

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Sometimes I switch off to a simple Coke and ACV Finishing Sauce with Rub added for seasoning. The Coke adds some sweetness and has a nice flavor...JJ
 

BartenderAL72

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Before so many commercial injections came on the scene, injecting chicken with chicken broth, (if you were not brining it) or injecting brisket with a beefy broth was common. But pork loins and butts were often injected with fruit juice, which is not a bad thing. But using a pork injection that already has a smokey, porky flavor to add flavor to a pork butt that you are smoking is a one-two punch.

To answer your questions:
1. I would use this injection before smoking the butt to add flavor to the inner meat. The smoke, surface fats combining with your rub and mop (or spray) will make the bark flavorful, but the inner meat is somewhat bland on it's own. So, if you are asking about a finishing sauce I would mix into pulled meat in order to serve it on a bun or Texas toast.... I would start with de-fatted foil juice, maybe add some sauce to that, and if I wanted to boost the "porky" flavor I might add some of the reserved injection.

-->I understand you want to flavor the inner meat...obviously. And I clearly understand the stock was added as an injection. My question was/is what were your plans for the finished meat - are you serving up pork roast or is this something you do for bbq pork sandwiches with bbq sauce? Sounds like you do a little bit of both.

2. Coke, after a few hours of cooking has a neutral flavor, but it is high in sugar. Mexican Coke is made with cane sugar, so that is a plus. Apple or apple/white grape is probably as sweet but apple juice is easier to detect. Many pork injections are sweet, and the sweet marries well with pork because many pork rubs are sweet, and many pork sauces are sweet. With only 40% of the injection being Coke, I don't think it has any tenderizing effect.
-->I say this with all due respect, I really do, but I see introducing Coke as the equivalent of sticking a McRib into the center of my brined turkey - because I enjoy the smokey flavor of the McRib. If all you are getting from the Coke is the sweet, why not use something a little less processed? Why introduce a product into your meat that can moonlight for a car battery terminal cleaner? Unless...there is more going on with the Coke. That's all I was curious about.
 

pineywoods

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Maybe try mixing the rub your using with some apple juice and injecting that. Personally I rarely inject a butt anymore and use a finishing sauce.
 

Dunstablegrizzly

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Maybe try mixing the rub your using with some apple juice and injecting that. Personally I rarely inject a butt anymore and use a finishing sauce.
That's what I do at times. I usually inject right before putting on smoker. Seems to work well. Been thinking of injecting hot sauce!
 

SmokinVOLfan

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I have been injecting pork butts with straight apple juice for years. Always turned out great and have gotten lots of compliments. The last one I did I didn't have any apple juice at the house so I said screw it and rubbed her down and tossed it on the smoker. Wife said it was the best one I have ever smoked and to continue to do it that way from now on. Lots of options out there!
 

thirdeye

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-->I understand you want to flavor the inner meat...obviously. And I clearly understand the stock was added as an injection. My question was/is what were your plans for the finished meat - are you serving up pork roast or is this something you do for bbq pork sandwiches with bbq sauce? Sounds like you do a little bit of both.



-->I say this with all due respect, I really do, but I see introducing Coke as the equivalent of sticking a McRib into the center of my brined turkey - because I enjoy the smokey flavor of the McRib. If all you are getting from the Coke is the sweet, why not use something a little less processed? Why introduce a product into your meat that can moonlight for a car battery terminal cleaner? Unless...there is more going on with the Coke. That's all I was curious about.
Personally, I'm not much of a sauce guy at home (on any of my barbecue except burnt ends) and the general routine for my butts is to break down the individual muscle groups and serve the choice ones as a main meat for a barbecue meal. In other words, maybe some slices from the money muscle end and some chunks from the horn (the muscle groups around the blade bone), the remainder of the butt I do pull but it might go into tacos or a burrito, and when we do make a pulled pork sandwiches they are traditional ones, topped with cole slaw and pretty light on the sauce. Sometimes I'll remove the money muscle (Coppa roast) end and smoke it separately, and grind the rest for sausage or making green chili. When cooking for a a small group or public events I cater to what they like..., so I serve mostly pulled pork and will have buns available but have at least two sauces at the serving table, not on the meat. I use a finishing rub, and I only moisten the meat with a finishing liquid or spray it with apple/white grape juice. All that said...., I've been involved in competition judging and cooking for about 12 years, so I am capable of switching gears. 99% of all competition shoulder is presented with sauce so when judging and cooking competition pork sauce is a big player, so I appreciate it in that arena.

Cooking with Coke has been around for generations, so it's obviously popular and not just in barbecue circles., because it works. It's not a Coke umami by any means, but there is something going on. I guess sweetness is one thing, but there is a depth of flavor, for lack of a better term, that is present. Heck, in the 60's my Grandmother used a Coca-Cola glaze on holiday hams, and would simmer baby onions with some Coke in the mix. For what's it's worth, my pork injection is the only thing I use Coke for and I haven't drank regular soda in 25 years, nor do I eat fast food more than 4 or 5 times a year at best. The processed foods I'm guilty of enjoying are limited to ham, bacon, sausage & salami. So, bottom line is, anything you don't feel comfortable with using in cooking, don't. Oh, and by the way, as much as I enjoy competition barbecue it is an overload of sugar, MSG, phosphates, fats, salts, among other things. I've seen cooks that buy MSG in the 1# jars, cooks that baste ribs with melted lard, and cooks that simmer thighs in 3 sticks of butter. But in moderation (and to a much lesser degree), when cooking in my backyard many of the pro techniques do work.
 

zwiller

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Add me to the list of guys buying MSG by the pound. Same for STPP. I imagine caramel is the main thing happening with Coke but it also has phosphate. A lot of guys swear by injecting cherry Dr. Pepper. Has a nice vanilla note. I get a similar note running oak. Already mentioned but apple juice is a good start. Unlike thirdeye thirdeye I prefer to mute the porkiness a bit and apple juice does this well. Other juices probably do it too, but the apple:pork is the classic paring so...

To me the ideal injection is not obvious but just kicks it up a few notches. Slowly built my own recipe based on weight derived from Mixons (apple juice base). It's not too far off from Lilly's. Mixons' book is pretty cool if you want to learn about competitive cue but in my case I just wanted my cue better than most. Some wild stuff in there.

Strangely, you can get away with a lot of sugar in an injection before it becomes sweet. To me, the sugar seems to thicken the flavor a bit. I have done enough research on most premade injections and know what makes them tick (and am also a cheap SOB) but using premade is not a bad idea. I also like to rest overnight after injecting so it has a chance to mingle.
 

thirdeye

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Add me to the list of guys buying MSG by the pound. Same for STPP. I imagine caramel is the main thing happening with Coke but it also has phosphate. A lot of guys swear by injecting cherry Dr. Pepper. Has a nice vanilla note.I get a similar note running oak. Already mentioned but apple juice is a good start. Unlike thirdeye thirdeye I prefer to mute the porkiness a bit and apple juice does this well. Other juices probably do it too, but the apple:pork is the classic paring so...
... I have done enough research on most premade injections and know what makes them tick (and am also a cheap SOB) but using premade is not a bad idea. I also like to rest overnight after injecting so it has a chance to mingle.
I knew Coke has phosphoric acid, but didn't know about phosphate. You're referring to the moisture retaining phosphate? I've shot a lot of pork loins with a LiteBrine, basically apple juice and 1 gram of salt per ounce of juice. So those small bottles 8oz or 10oz are perfect for mixing. Have you tried apple/white grape? I can't get it in the little bottles, but it's in the shelf stable pouches. It's similar to, but not as recognizable as apple juice.

The commercial injections I'm referring to are not the premade store bought ones in bottles. For example they would be Fab-B, Butcher's, Kosmo's, Oakridge etc., and are powders that you add water, juice or broth to. Some are dual purpose like Kosmo's Chicken Soak & Injection, or Oakridge Game Changer Brine & Injection. I'm currently testing out Big Poppa's Cattle Prod beef injection and Cash Cow beef rub. Nonetheless, there are tons of options out there.
 

zwiller

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I knew Coke has phosphoric acid, but didn't know about phosphate. You're referring to the moisture retaining phosphate? I've shot a lot of pork loins with a LiteBrine, basically apple juice and 1 gram of salt per ounce of juice. So those small bottles 8oz or 10oz are perfect for mixing. Have you tried apple/white grape? I can't get it in the little bottles, but it's in the shelf stable pouches. It's similar to, but not as recognizable as apple juice.
Yes, but I actually misspoke. "Creates phosphate" is more like it. I forget the exact science but the phosphoric acid reacts with the sodium in the meat and salt forming it. Have not tried mixing with white grape but do plan to try it. That said, was kind surprised how much better apple juice works over the cheap stuff. I use "Tree Top". Bought some to try and my family and I freaked out over how good it was. Much fresher and "real" tasting.
 

thirdeye

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Yes, but I actually misspoke. "Creates phosphate" is more like it. I forget the exact science but the phosphoric acid reacts with the sodium in the meat and salt forming it. Have not tried mixing with white grape but do plan to try it. That said, was kind surprised how much better apple juice works over the cheap stuff. I use "Tree Top". Bought some to try and my family and I freaked out over how good it was. Much fresher and "real" tasting.
That would make sense . You don't have to buy separate juice. Mott's sells apple/white grape in the little pouches, the ones that come with the straw.
 
Last edited:

BartenderAL72

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Personally, I'm not much of a sauce guy at home (on any of my barbecue except burnt ends) and the general routine for my butts is to break down the individual muscle groups and serve the choice ones as a main meat for a barbecue meal. In other words, maybe some slices from the money muscle end and some chunks from the horn (the muscle groups around the blade bone), the remainder of the butt I do pull but it might go into tacos or a burrito, and when we do make a pulled pork sandwiches they are traditional ones, topped with cole slaw and pretty light on the sauce. Sometimes I'll remove the money muscle (Coppa roast) end and smoke it separately, and grind the rest for sausage or making green chili. When cooking for a a small group or public events I cater to what they like..., so I serve mostly pulled pork and will have buns available but have at least two sauces at the serving table, not on the meat. I use a finishing rub, and I only moisten the meat with a finishing liquid or spray it with apple/white grape juice. All that said...., I've been involved in competition judging and cooking for about 12 years, so I am capable of switching gears. 99% of all competition shoulder is presented with sauce so when judging and cooking competition pork sauce is a big player, so I appreciate it in that arena.

Cooking with Coke has been around for generations, so it's obviously popular and not just in barbecue circles., because it works. It's not a Coke umami by any means, but there is something going on. I guess sweetness is one thing, but there is a depth of flavor, for lack of a better term, that is present. Heck, in the 60's my Grandmother used a Coca-Cola glaze on holiday hams, and would simmer baby onions with some Coke in the mix. For what's it's worth, my pork injection is the only thing I use Coke for and I haven't drank regular soda in 25 years, nor do I eat fast food more than 4 or 5 times a year at best. The processed foods I'm guilty of enjoying are limited to ham, bacon, sausage & salami. So, bottom line is, anything you don't feel comfortable with using in cooking, don't. Oh, and by the way, as much as I enjoy competition barbecue it is an overload of sugar, MSG, phosphates, fats, salts, among other things. I've seen cooks that buy MSG in the 1# jars, cooks that baste ribs with melted lard, and cooks that simmer thighs in 3 sticks of butter. But in moderation (and to a much lesser degree), when cooking in my backyard many of the pro techniques do work.
Thank You, thirdeye, for your time, clarification and clear response. I know it's 6AM's post, but I've learned a lot as well, and I certainly appreciate it. And same here for the fast food and sodas. Minus pizza - we certainly enjoy that.
 

mneeley490

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My basic injection (in fact, I'm doing 2 pork butts this weekend) is apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and more rub. (Sometimes I'll swap applesauce for the cider.) Mix together in roughly equal amounts and inject with a needle large enough to pass the spices in the rub.
Another standby is grape jelly. Microwave until it liquefies. Sounds weird, but it gives it a bit of sweetness, and you won't taste the grape in the end product.
 

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