The original spiedies were marinated cubes of leg of lamb grilled to perfection on a skewer. Sure, we’ve all had marinated meat on a skewer. The Binghamton flair, however, was that it was served with a slice of soft white Italian bread that you wrapped around the four or five cubes of meat and then pulled the stick. The remaining sandwich was the penultimate bar food. You could buy them one at a time while enjoying Genessee or Utica Club upstate New York beer.
On our way south from Toronto, We stopped in Binghamton for two days. I dreamed of having those very spiedies that long hibernated in the cerebral creases of my brain.
Finding authentic spiedies was a Herculean task though. They serve what they call spiedies, but they were not the spiedies of my memory. These days, Binghamton restaurants grill chicken or pork only, put it in a sub roll and call it a spiedie sandwich. That’s a submarine sandwich, not a spiedie, damn it!
Evidently, since I myself left for other frontiers, spiedies have fallen out of favor with the upstate New York populace. This in no way implies that I kept an entire industry alive with my personal consumption.
After much Internet searching and asking the local residents, we finally found the one remaining restaurant that still serves lamb if you ask for it: Lupo’s. They do, however, shove it in the sacrilegious submarine roll. My friend, Mick, a local television weatherman and lifetime Binghamton resident, told me a secret. When they hand you the submarine sandwich, you have to ask for Italian bread on the side. It’s the only way to get something that closely resembles the original.
Spiedies are near extinction. Something must be done. It’s a call to arms! Or, maybe it’s a call to grill?
- Buy a loaf or two of soft Italian bread, seeded or not, but pre-sliced.
- Cut a spring leg of lamb into cubes about 1-1/2 inches.
- Marinate the cubes overnight.
- Skewer the cubes 4-5 pieces per skewer. (If you use the wood skewers, it’s best to soak them in water for about 15 minutes first.)
- Grill, making sure not to over cook the lamb. (If you’re not sure, use an instant read thermometer until you see how long to cook them.)
- Pull off the grill and nest each skewer in one slice of bread.
- Hold the meat with the bread, pull out the skewer, and voila!
Menichini's Spiedie Recipe (winner 1995 Spiedie Fest) 2 quarts extra virgin olive oil 1 bunch sweet basil, chopped 1 bunch fresh mint, chopped 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped 1 fresh bulb garlic, medium, minced 1 fresh small onion, minced 2 cups balsamic vinegar 2 cups red wine vinegar juice from 10 lemons 2 Tbsp. black pepper 1 Tbsp. salt 1 1/2 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. dehydrated onion Blend into a dressing. Marinate overnight.