The Fastest Way to Season Roasts, Inside and Out
To get bold-flavored meat fast, we turned to a tool beloved by pit masters.
Meat injectors have long been the secret weapon of pit masters and barbecue competition cooks. They use these tools to inject flavorings such as broth, apple juice, beer, wine, or soy sauce deep into cuts like brisket and pork shoulder. Injecting a simple salt solution into a large roast can also be a fast and effective way to season it—and unlike with brining or salting, there’s no need to wait for the salt to penetrate. With enough seasoning solution injected strategically throughout the roast, the salt will diffuse outward from the injection sites over the course of cooking and season the meat from center to edge.
To nail down a method, we bought an inexpensive stainless-steel meat injector and used it to experiment with injecting different concentrations of salt solution into a pork loin. We found that we needed to use less salt than in a brine solution or the roasts turned out too salty. Because injecting liquid into a roast is a bit of a messy business—some of the solution inevitably leaks out—we placed the roast in a large bowl or roasting pan to capture the mess. We also found that it was most efficient to place the salt solution in the bowl or pan with the roast and to draw the liquid into the plunger from there.
We recommend this treatment for roasts and poultry that are more than 2 inches thick.
FOR MEDIUM ROASTS such as a pork loin, strip roast, or whole turkey breast, whisk 3 tablespoons of table salt into 4 cups of water in a large bowl until dissolved to make the salt solution.
FOR LARGE ROASTS such as whole turkeys, use a roasting pan and double the amount of salt solution.
Place roast in bowl or roasting pan. Fit injector with needle (if kit comes with fine-gauge needle, use that) and fill with 2 to 3 milliliters of solution. Insert injector into roast, pull out about halfway, then slowly inject solution while continuing to pull out. (Don’t worry if some of the solution leaks out.) Space injections 1 to 1½ inches apart and 1 to 1½ inches from sides of roast. Turn roast in bowl, making sure all surfaces are coated with salt solution to thoroughly season exterior. Cook roast according to recipe.