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04/10/2019

~ The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Sandwich ~

IMG_0614Endicott, NY, is off the beaten path for some, which is why the spiedie sandwich just might be the best sandwich a lot of folks never heard of.  The odd part is, growing up with parents who pretty much stuck close to their home in Eastern, PA, as a family we actually made it to New York every now and then, and, everyone in our family, including grandma, loved a spiedie sandwich.  It was back in the 1960's, and, I was so young, I didn't even know I was eating an official spiedie.

B146b8f0f761201051e282db4e01d334--seneca-dodge-dartMy grandmother, my mom's mother, had a  friend who lived in Endicott New York (a town West of Binghamton).  For 6-8 years, once every Summer, our family of four plus grandma, arranged ourselves in dad's brand-new all-white, 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca and headed North.  It was a long day (we left early in the morning and returned late in the evening), but just before arriving at our destination, we stopped to eat spiedies for lunch (our hostess always made dinner).

^^^ I stole this photo after an internet search for a white, four-door, 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca.

As Philadelphia, PA = the cheesesteak capital of the world, &, Chicago, IL = the Italian-beef capital of the world...

IMG_0465The spiedie is a sandwich local to the Binghamton area, and, visiting this region and not eating a spiedie would be like traveling to the Philadelphia or Chicago and not eating a cheesesteak sandwich or an Italian-beef sandwich.  Simply put, a spiedie consists of cubes of marinated chicken, pork, beef 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 (containing 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, which will give you a flavor profile to follow, should you be inclined to make your own, Lupo's is the brand I recommend.

... Binghamton, NY = the spiedie capital of the world!

IMG_0604"Spiedie" comes from the Italian word "spiede", as-in skewered food cooked on a "spit".  As for their origin, three people seemed to have played a part in their creation and popularization.  An Italian immigrant, Camillo Lacovelli claims to have invented the original spiedie in Endwell, NY. 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.

  And this Italian-heritaged sandwich has plenty of variations. 

IMG_0544It was only natural for the spiedie sandwich to make its way to the big city of Binghamton -- its initial appearance was in 1947 at Sharky's Bar & Grill, owned by Peter Sharak.  The rest is history and Binghamton, is now the spiedie capital of the world, with an annual three-day Spiedie Festival and Balloon Rally that attracts over 100,000 people.  While the original Italian-style spiedie is still the most popular, spiedies 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.

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 9.34.22 AMFor my version of the Classic Italian Spiedie Sandwich:

IMG_0480For the meat:  

2 1/2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs or tenderloins, or pork blade steak (trimmed of excess fat) or pork tenderloin, cut into 1" cubes, marinated as directed below (Note:  Nicely-marbled steak or leg of lamb options too.)

2  each:  green and red bell peppers, sliced into 1" squares* 

1  large sweet onion, sliced into 1" squares*

*Note:  While a classic Italian spiedie is traditionally just marinated and grilled meat placed in an Italian roll or on slice of Italian bread, bell pepper and onions are classic Italian ingredients, and, my family will not allow me to make Italian spiedies without them.  The choice is yours. 

IMG_0624To make 1 1/4 cups marinade (enough for 2 1/2-3 pounds meat cubes):

6  tablespoons  corn oil

6  tablespoons malt vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or store-bought organic lemon juice, not from concentrate

1  tablespoon sugar

1  teaspoon Italian seasoning

1  teaspoon dried mint

1 1/2  teaspoons  garlic salt

1 1/2  teaspoons onion salt

1  teaspoon paprika

1  teaspoon sea salt

IMG_0597 IMG_0597~ Step 1.  To make marinade (which can be prepared several hours or days in advance), in a 2-cup "shaker" container (the type used to shake salad dressing in order to stabilize it), place all ingredients as listed.  Cover and shake container.

Note: 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 marinade/sauce, add 2 tablespoons honey to the mixture, but, be aware that a saucepan containing a sweet marinade can and will burn or boil over quickly on the grill or stovetop, so be sure to watch carefully.   In the case of ALL things marinated: 

Marination is a flavorizer not a tenderizer, &, the length of the marination time does not affect the grilling time.

IMG_0467 IMG_0467 IMG_0467 IMG_0467~Step 2. Place chicken or pork cubes in a 1-gallon ziplock bag. Add the marinade and seal the bag.  Marinate the chicken or pork cubes, in the refrigerator, for 6-12-24 hours (the longer the better), stopping to squish the bag occasionally (if convenient), throughout the process.

IMG_0483~Step 3.  To assemble 16, 8" bamboo skewers, thread one marinated meat cube, followed by one slice each of green bell pepper, onion and red bell pepper.  Continue alternating meat cubes and vegetable, until each skewer contains 4 cubes of meat and 3 groups of peppers and onion.  To this point, spiedie skewers can be assembled several hours and up to a day in advance of grilling.

IMG_0491~Step 4.  To grill skewers on an outdoor gas grill (or indoors using a grill pan), arrange skewers, side-by-side, on grill grids over direct heat on medium-high heat of gas grill, or, on grill grids of a large grill pan over medium-high heat on the stovetop. The heat on all grills and stovetops is not even close to being created equal, so be sure to monitor the process, which, is easy to do and goes relatively quickly.

IMG_0496 IMG_0496 IMG_0496 IMG_0496~Step 5.  Grill (all at once or in batches depending upon the size of grill or grill pan), turning four times, until meat is cooked through and light golden on all sides, and peppers are showing signs of light charring around the edges.  On grill or in grill pan, this will take about 14-15 total minutes.

Unthred onto buns & serve w/marinade for dipping or drizzling:

IMG_0546The Classic Italian Endicott-Style Spiedie Sandwich: Recipe yields 16 skewers, enough for 8 large hoagie-sized sandwiches or 16 smaller hot-dog-sized sandwiches.

Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 2-cup "shaker" container w/tight-fitting lid and pourer top; 1-gallon ziplock bag; 16, 8" bamboo skewers; gas barbecue grill or large grill pan

IMG_0568Cook's Note:  Variations in the marinade make it possible to serve spiedies Asian-style, Greek-style, Jamaican-style, etc, so, do not hesitate to be creative.  Allow me to suggest you try my ~ Texican-Style Pork Steak and Bell Pepper Spiedies ~.  These are marinated in a tangy lime- and cilantro-laced marinade and accompanied by my ~ Easy Sweet & Spicy Tex-Mex-Style Barbecue Sauce ~. 

"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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