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The Best Ways to Inject Turkey to Make It Tender

author image Brynne Chandler
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.
The Best Ways to Inject Turkey to Make It Tender
Marinade is generally injected before deep-frying turkeys. Photo Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Most marinades do not penetrate very far into the meat, meaning that they tenderize the surface only. Injecting a marinade allows it to work on the inside of the meat, breaking down the muscle fibers and the collagen that binds them. Injecting marinade also spreads the flavor more thoroughly throughout the turkey. But if you're not careful, using injectable marinades can cause more problems than it solves.

Injecting Basics

Injecting marinade means that you force the liquid into the turkey with a syringe. This method is most often used when deep-frying turkeys, because the extreme heat tends to dry them out. It is important to inject the marinade into the meat of the bird and not just under the skin when deep-frying because any drops of marinade that come in contact with the hot oil will explode, splattering oil out of the pot.

Marinades Basics

Marinades are made up of three parts, each with its own function. An acid is needed to break down the muscle fibers and collagen in the meat. Soy sauce, vinegar, pineapple or citrus juice and wine all contain the necessary acids. Milk also contains acid, but in a much milder form. Seasonings are added to flavor the turkey. Poultry seasoning usually includes rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and sometimes garlic. Oil is required to act and emulsifier, to bind the acid and the seasonings together. It also helps keep the acids from drying the meat as it breaks down the proteins and collagen.

Use Injectable Marinades

Many marinades contain bits of garlic, onion and herbs that are too big to pass through the syringe. Injectable marinades are free of anything that could clog the injector. If you can't find injectable marinades in your area, strain a regular marinade through fine-mesh cheesecloth at least twice to remove large particles.

Reuse Injection Sites

Marinade should be injected into the turkey’s breast, legs, thighs and wings. But too many holes allows tenderizing juices to run out. Avoid this by inserting the needle into the turkey and squirting out only a quarter to a third of the marinade. Pull the syringe partially out of the meat and poke it back in slightly askew from its original path. Release another quarter or third of the marinade. Doing it this way gives you three or four injections per puncture.

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