Do you pierce raw meat before cooking, and if yes, what tool do you use? For years, there has been an ongoing debate whether you should pierce meat before cooking, with everyone giving their reasons for why you should or should not. Here at Bradley Smokers, we say that, as with many food preparation questions, there’s no one answer for this one. Cooking is all about being creative and trying different recipes to see what helps you get your desired results.
In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of poking meat before smoking, outlining some of the tools you can use.
Should you pierce meat before smoking?
A lot goes into food preparation, and there are many steps to follow before placing your meat in the food smoker, including marinating.
Soaking your meat in marinades helps add flavor while making your meat tender. However, depending on how thin you have cut your pieces of meat, the marinade may fail to penetrate all that deep. In such cases, poking holes in your meat will help all the ingredients fully absorb and not remain on the surface. Probing also helps you know the meat temperature to avoid overcooking.
Another benefit that has been associated with poking holes in raw meat is that it helps tenderize the meat. The piercings allow heat to penetrate deeper when cooking, cutting down on the cooking time and making the meat tender.
While some argue that piercing raw meat before food smoking allows juices to escape, others are all for it. The meat’s moisture level and tenderness highly depend on the cooking time and temperature. Additionally, poking your meat does not damage the fibers enough to allow additional juices to leak out.
How to poke holes in the meat
There are multiple ways to go about this. The important thing to consider is ensuring that you don’t pierce too deeply into the steak and end up ruining the structure. For this reason, what you use to pierce the meat is crucial. Some of the items you can use include probes and injectors.
How to probe your meat
Keeping your fingers on the probe, carefully insert it through the center of your meat and leave it for 15–20 seconds to allow for the temperature to register. As you do so, ensure that your probe does not come into contact with any other hot surface other than the meat. Additionally, the probe should not touch any bone or fat. Keep probing your meat until you reach the desired temperature specified in your recipe or food smoker.
For better results, you should stick the probe into the thickest part of the meat and ensure it’s at least two inches deep. It’s also a good idea to regularly check the temperature as it will help you know when your meat is fit for consumption.
What you should consider when buying a meat probe
- Accuracy – The primary purpose of a meat thermometer is to guide you on the cooking temperature to know when the meat is ready. If the probe is inaccurate or has inconsistencies, it might mess up your cooking.
- Range – The smoking temperature varies depending on the type of meat. When buying a probe, it’s important to ensure that it has a wide range of readings.
- Recording features.
How to use meat injectors
Unlike probes that are generally used to check meat temperature, injectors are syringes that you fill with marinades allowing you to evenly distribute it in your choice meat.
Why use a meat injector
Marinating your meat before smoking helps enhance the flavor and tenderize the meat. One of the benefits of using a meat injector is that an injector penetrates deeper than rubbing the marinade on the brisket. This means that the marinade will be absorbed on the surface and inside the meat.
A meat injector also helps keep your meat juicy. Depending on how you like your brisket or the cut of steak you choose, some meat can be a bit dry. To help keep your meat juicy and moist, you can inject it before smoking.
Here’s how to use it:
In a bowl, prepare your marinade, then attach the needle to your meat injector and draw the liquid marinade into the syringe. On your meat, carefully pierce the flesh using the meat injector until you feel the bone, then press down gently.
When to inject your meat
The more time you allow the meat to sit, the better, as it will give the juices more time to spread. However, it all depends on your preferred taste.
While piercing your meat before smoking has some pros, there are also cons. The question of whether to pierce your meat with probes and injectors depends on what you want to achieve and your preferred taste.
For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.