Binghamton Spiedies

“It’s all about the meat.”
If you know what I’m talking about, then you must be from Binghamton New York, eaten there, or know someone from the region.  In my case, it was my maternal grandparents.  Every time we went to visit them in Binghamton, or they came to see us, we would have spiedies.  There were three things we could always count on when we visited my grandparents there; that a fresh banana cream pie would be in the fridge, that grandma would make homemade rolls and that we would have spiedies.   Back in the day they were always made with lamb (at least at our shindigs) but now we make them with beef, pork or even chicken.  Hey, Curtis almost made them with kangaroo when he was in Australia recently.  He asked me for the recipe, but it didn’t pan out because there wasn’t enough time.  Here’s the thing;  you need to let these marinate at least 24 hours.  When I catch a good sale on lamb, I buy a leg, have the butcher cut it from the bone and then freeze the cubes in the marinade in a ziploc bag.  Two days before I want to grill them, I take them out and let them thaw in the fridge, then have a mad spiedie-fest.  Keith loves when there’s extra left marinating in the fridge and he can grill them at will.

This is my own recipe that I developed over several years until the spiedies of my youth were reincarnated.  It is pretty much the holy grail of my family recipes.  If you are someone meeting our family for the first time, chances are we’ll be introducing you to spiedies.  I know you’re looking at the photo and saying to yourself “looks like shish-kabob to me.”  WRONG!  Spiedies have a tangy, herby quality all their own.   Many foodies say the name evolved from spedini, an italian appetizer,   They are easy to make, simply requiring some thinking ahead in order to get the full 24 hours to marinate.  
Of course, if you want to get swanky, you can fly some in from Lupo’sa spiedie restaurant in Binghamton.  They sell the marinated meats or the bottled marinade.  I was given a bottle of their marinade once and it was good.

1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh basil, fresh parsley and 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, all chopped to equal one cup
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion, minced
2 pounds fresh lamb, beef top round or chuck, pork, chicken or venison (or kangaroo!) cut in 1-inch cubes

Combine all the ingredients (except meat) in a large bowl and mix well.  Place meat in a large ziploc bag and pour marinade over.  Place in a bowl in the fridge and marinate 24 hours, squeezing and turning bag once in a while.  Thread meat on skewers, then grill until they are to your liking, 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
It is customary to serve them with soft Italian bread, and we like them with rice or pasta salad.  If you make them with lamb, serve with a mint jelly.

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