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~ The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Marinade ~

IMG_0647The hamlet of Endwell, the village of Endicott, and, the city of Binghamton.  What do these three places in upstate New York have in common?  They each own a piece of the claim to creating a sandwich unique to their area, and, popularizing it to the point to hold an annual three-days-in-August food festival and hot-air balloon rally that attracts over 100,000 people to celebrate.  The "Spiedie" comes from the Italian word "spiede", as-in cubes of skewered meat cooked on a "spit".

Spiediefest08_400x400An Italian immigrant, Camillo Lacovelli is said to have introduced the original spiedie to Endwell, NY, in the early 1930's. Via his brother, Agostino "Augie" Lacovelli, who put spiedies on his Augie's Restaurant (located in Endicott) menu in 1939, they gained local popularity.  Augie's son Guido Lacovelli, continued the family business into the 1990's, owning as many as 26 restaurants at the peak of his career.  It was only natural for the spiedie sandwich to make its way to the big city of Binghamton -- its initial appearance was in 1947 at the still very popular Sharky's Bar & Grill, owned by Peter Sharak.  The rest is history.

Binghamton is the spiedie capital of the world.  

IMG_0614The secret to a great spiedie is the tangy and tart marinade.

IMG_0465Visiting this region of New York and not eating a spiedie would be tantamount to a foodie traveling to Philadelphia or Chicago and not eating a cheesesteak sandwich or an Italian-beef sandwich. My classic spiedie recipe consists of cubes of marinated chicken, pork, beef, veal or lamb, skewered, char-grilled and served in a soft, hoagie-type roll (or a slice of Italian bread), with a bit of extra sauce (simmered marinade) drizzled on top.  The marinade is the star of the show and is similar to Italian dressing (oil, vinegar, paprika and a variety of Italian spices, including mint in many versions), which quickly caramelizes when it hits the grill, keeping the meat cubes tender on the inside.  

For a tasty store-bought version, Lupo's is the brand I recommend, and, was the flavor profile I used to come up with my own recipe.  That said, while the original Italian-style spiedie marinade is the most popular, spiedie marinades have crossed cultural borders.  Variations in the marinade make it possible to make and serve them Asian-, Greek-, Jamaican-, Tex-Mex-, etc., style, and, eaten straight off the skewer or in salads or stir-fries, they're not limited to sandwiches anymore.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad35bca62200c 6a0120a8551282970b0223c8493631200c IMG_1279My marinade = enough to marinate 5-6 pounds 1"-cubed boneless, skinless chicken thighs or tenderloins, pork blade steak or pork tenderloin, or, nicely-marbled beef steak.  Because marinade works exclusively as a flavorizer, not a tenderizer, I avoid meat like chicken breasts, pork loin and sirloin steak, which tend to get tough.

In all cases, marination is a flavorizer not a tenderizer...

IMG_0624For 2 1/2 cups marinade (enough for 5-6 pounds meat cubes):

3/4  cup  corn oil

3/4  cup malt vinegar

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or high-quality store-bought organic lemon juice not from concentrate

2  tablespoons sugar

2  teaspoons Italian seasoning

2  teaspoons dried mint

1  tablespoon garlic salt

1  tablespoon onion salt

2  teaspoons paprika

2  teaspoons sea salt

IMG_0627 IMG_0627~ Step 1.  To make marinade, in a 1-quart "shaker" container (the type used to shake salad dressing in order to stabilize it) or jar with a tight fitting lid, place all ingredients as listed.  Cover and shake container.  If you have that time, set the marinade aside for several hours, or overnight, to allow the flavors time to marry.  It may be prepared several days in advance, and, like any vinaigrette, stored in the refrigerator indefinitely too.

IMG_0477Note:  After marinating the meat, the leftover marinade may be transferred to a small 1-quart saucepan and gently simmered 3-4 minutes to use as a flavorful sauce for dipping or drizzling over finished sandwiches -- and a wee drizzle goes a long way.  There's more.  For a sweeter version of the simmered sauce, add 2 tablespoons honey to the mixture -- be aware that sweet marinades can and will burn or boil over quickly on the grill or stovetop, so be sure to watch carefully. 

&, the length of marination time does not affect the grilling time.

IMG_0483Try my classic Italian-style spiedies w/bell peppers & onions:

IMG_0544Or, my Tex-Mex-marinated spiedies w/Texican barbecue sauce:

IMG_0568The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Marinade:  Recipe yields 2 1/2 cups marinade for 5-6 pound chicken, pork or beef cubes.

Special Equipment List: 1-quart measuring container w/pourer top and lid, or, 1-quart jar w/tight-fitting lid; 2-gallon ziplock bag

6a0120a8551282970b01bb0909e769970dCook's Note:  For a similar sandwich, which isn't a spiedie because the meat doesn't get marinated, my recipe for ~ Herbed Pork Skewers w/Apricot-Mustard Sauce ~ is a keeper.  That said, in the event you'd like to transition it into a spiedie that uses pork tenderloin (it would be easy to do), my step-by-step directions will show you how to slice and fold the pork slices (not cut it into cubes), which keeps this cut of pork super-tender.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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