History of Spiedies, Spiedie Sandwich
Spiedie Sandwich (SPEE-dee) The name comes
from the Italian spiedo meaning kitchen cooking spit. Originally made
from lamb, they are now made with virtually any meat. It is chunks of lamb, pork, chicken,
beef, or venison that has been marinated for days in a tart sauce and then grilled on a
metal skewer, usually over charcoal or gas. The traditional way of serving is between
sliced Italian bread with extra sauce poured on top. The Spiedie, skewer and all, is then
inserted in sliced Italian bread. The bread is used as a sort of mitt, wrapping around the
meat. Pull out the skew and you then have a wonderful and delicious hot sandwich.
If you find folks who know of spiedies, they are most likely originally from Binghamton
in Broome County, New York, or they know someone who is. Broome County is in New York's
Southern Tier, southeast of the Finger Lakes and just north of Pennsylvania. People who
live in the area eat them at restaurants, from street vendors, buy from supermarkets, and
even make their own at backyard cookouts. Spiedies have been completely integrated into the food culture of the
region, and natives who have moved away from the area have been known to have commercial
spiedie sauce shipped, by the case, to their new homes.
An annual three-day community gathering is held featuring
hot air balloons, live music, and hundreds of varieties of spiedies cooked
and sold by countless vendors. The weekend of entertainment
and fun always concludes with the Spiedie Cook-Off on Sunday.
They originated with Binghamtons Italian immigrant population in the 1920s.
Augustine Iacovelli from Endicott, New York is believed to have popularized the Spiedie by
introducing them in his restaurant, called Augies, in 1939. The original
sauce, which he called Zuzu, was wine vinegar, water, lemon juice, garlic
and mint. His spiedies caught on so well among the local railroad workers and shoemakers that for
years every little corner grocery had a spiedie stand on the street in front
Spiedie Sandwich Recipe - How To Make A Spiedie Sandwich
Mid-Atlantic (Binghamton, New York)
Yields: 6 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 8 min
2 pounds meat (chicken, lamb, pork or beef), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes*
1 cup extra-virgin
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon red (cayenne) pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground
1 loaf Italian or French bread, thickly sliced
* Use boneless and skinless chicken
breasts, pork tenderloin, top round steak, or leg of lamb.
In a large bowl, combine olive oil, lemon
juice, vinegar, and sugar. Add garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, thyme,
basil, oregano, salt and pepper; stir until well blended.
Place prepared meat in a large resealable
plastic bag set into a shallow dish. Pour marinade mixture over meat and
close bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for a least 24 hours and up to 3
days; turn bag occasionally to distribute marinade. Remove meat from
refrigerator and let stand in marinade at room temperature for 2 hour;
drain, reserving marinade.
Preheat barbecue grill. Thread 4 to 5
cubes of meat onto each metal skewer. Place onto hot grill and cook 8 to
10 minutes or until done to your preference, basting with reserved
marinade. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
To serve, fold the bread over the contents
of the skewer and pull the skewer out, leaving the meat sandwiched
within the bread.
Makes 6 servings.
I was just reading through your explanation of Spiedies and noticed you
mention an annual "Spiedie Cook-Off with a recipe contest." I'd just
like to pass along that its a bit more than that these days, its 3 days
of community gathering, hot air balloons, live music, and hundreds of
varieties of spiedies cooked and sold by countless vendors. The weekend
of entertainment and fun always concludes with the Spiedie Cook-Off on
Sunday, last year's event drew between 100,000-120,000 people and will
be held again this weekend (annually the first weekend of August).
was just introduced to your website recently and stumbled across the
Spiedie history and recipe. A number of years ago (about 30 or there
about) I was on a business trip to Endicott, New York and was told
of these wonderful sandwich delicacies that were indigenous to that
area. My traveling partner raved about the time he spent there at
IBM and the lunch items available in the local facilities. I was in
a state of wild anticipation of our arrival and the opportunity to
sample the fare. As it turned out, we LIVED on Spiedies for the
entire time we were there. The only respite was breakfast which
consisted of coffee and a Danish at the hotel. We had beer and
Spiedies for every other meal for four days. What a wild
adventure! When I returned home, I brought a case of Spiedie sauce
with me. The folks that I worked with from the New York area around
Binghamton bought the sauce and had us all over for their versions
of the sandwich. Great times. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
- Bob Devon, Lake Elsinore, CA (9/19/09)
Despite the fact that
it originated from Italian families of Binghamton and Endicott, and that
every local ethnicity seems to have put its signature on it in some
form, and that the Spiedies have adapted to popular tastes... ie
Buffalo Chicken Spiedies (like chicken wing sauce), Blue Cheese Spiedies,
Philly Cheese Spiedies etc.. just some of the more popular varieties at
The Lupo family seems to be the dominate commercial spiedie people with two groups of
the family owning two separate competing restaurant chains - The Lupo's
Charpits and Spiedie & Rib Pits. Commercially, Spiedie Sauce from local
companies can be found on shelves of Wegman's, Giant, A&P, and Price
Chopper Supermarkets over much of the Mid-Atlantic states now. -