Spiedie Sandwich History and Recipe

Spiedie Sandwich (SPEE-dee) – 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.

Spiedie Sandwich Photo Credit: Tim Turner from “Weber’s New American Barbecue Bible.”

 

History of Spiedies, Spiedie Sandwich:

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  Originally made from lamb, they are now made with virtually any meat.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.

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 of it.

 

Spiedie Sandwich

 

A tray of spiedies from Sharkey’s at Binghamton, NY

Spiedie Sandwich TrayPhoto credit: Tony Cenicola – New York Times

 

 

Spiedie Sandwich Recipe – How To Make A Spiedie Sandwich:

Spiedie Sandwich History and Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

2 pounds meat (chicken, lamb, pork or beef), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes*
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
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 salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely-ground pepper 
1 loaf Italian or French bread, thickly sliced
Metal Skewers

* Use boneless and skinless chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, top round steak, or leg of lamb.

 

Instructions:

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 re-sealable 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.

Spiede Sandwich meat marinading

Preheat barbecue grill.

Thread 4 to 5 cubes of meat onto each metal skewer. Place onto the prepared hot grill and cook approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until done to your preference, basting with reserved marinade. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Spiedie Sandwich meat grilling

 

To serve, fold the bread over the contents of the skewer and pull the skewer out, leaving the meat sandwiched within the bread.

Spiedie Sandwich assembly

Makes 6 servings.

 

https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Sandwiches/Spiedie.htm

Spiedie Sandwich



Comments from Readers:

I 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

 

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 it is a bit more than that these days, it is 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).  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… i.e.  Buffalo Chicken Spiedies (like chicken wing sauce), Blue Cheese Spiedies, Philly Cheese Spiedies etc. . . just some of the more popular varieties at local restaurants.  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.

 

Related Recipes:

Categories:

Beef Sandwiches    Food HIstory    Lunch    Mid Atlantic    Sandwiches History   

Comments and Reviews

31 Responses to “Spiedie Sandwich History and Recipe”

  1. John Schaefer

    Good history and recipe! I do not add mint and use apple cider vinegar, but equal to red wine vinegar. I also add 1/4 tea of red pepper flakes, or Tobasco sauce for some heat. I lived in Vestal, J.C., and Endicott for years and I think this is the best rendition of my favorite food from there. It is best paired with some Genisee Cream Ale, a slice of pizza and slip on your Endicott Johnson Bunny Slippers! P.S.: lookout for those Vestal Virgins!

    Reply
  2. Carolee Pezzuti

    My husband Bob was born in Endicot in 1934. He is famous with his family for his spiedies. He does use fresh mint. He also uses lamb. He thinks it’s abomination two use anything else. I like this recipe and I might try it.

    Reply
  3. Michalski bridget

    Grew up in Horseheads NY and loved the speidis at “Chef Italia” with the donkey in the back of the restaurant!

    Reply
  4. Bill Getson

    I had never even HEARD of Spiedies until I moved to Vestal NY, (Binghamton, Endicott, Johnson City, NY area) after accepting a posiiton wth (BM Endicott. My new friends IMMEDIATELY decided to invite us over to try their famous dish SPIEDIES. The showed us how to take the skewer off the grill, place a Split Italian Bread Slice around the end of the skewere and slide the meat onto the bread. The meat was coated either with the Spiedie Sauce that the meat was marinated in or just plain ordinary Ketchup. Then, just fold over the bread around the meat and ENJOY, especially with a can or bottle of beer. I guarantee you that I had MORE THAN ONE spiedie that day, and have enjoyed them ever since. We either make our own marinade or we can buy Lupo’s in oour local Publix.

    When we invited our family from the Duryea, PA area to drive up to visit us, we told them that we would be having a “special” lunch that day. So, after cooking several skewers of Spiedies and breaking out the Italian Split Bread, we passed the skewer full of roasted Lamb (most likely) around to our family, but “Uncle Al”, didn’t think the would be interested in trying them. After some “cajoling”, he finally agreed to try ONE. After he chugged THAT one down he ASKED for another, and eventually had THREE (3) that day, himself. So, from Not being interestd to ENJOYING them, obviously, “Uncle Al” became an afficianado with out even realizing it and initially, against his will. He NEVER refused another Spiedie the remainder of his life.

    I’m getting hungry for a “batch” of them right now.

    Bill Getson
    Melbourne, Florida

    Reply
  5. Roddy J Dryer

    I was born and raised in Endicott, growing up with spiedies being a part of life. But I left the area long ago and haven’t had spiedies since. I’m glad I found this recipe. I recall rosemary being in some recipes but I also recall numerous versions here and there, such as the one once sold by what (I think) was called Billy’s Meats. I’m still slightly surprised the trend hasn’t moved farther and around.

    Reply
  6. Darien Sumner

    I lived in Elmira for two years, but ironically never had a spiedie until a (regrettably short-lived) spiedie shop opened up in Greenfield, Massachusetts. I felt like a fool when I discovered what I’d missed!

    Reply
  7. Nicoletta Caforio-Sine

    Many fond memories of watching my dad make lamb spiedies and setting up outside Kelly’s in West Endicott and selling them for $.25. Always added fresh mint.

    Reply
    • Scott lockwood

      I actually had your dads spiedies lamb ones back in 70s before it was Kelly’s went
      West Endicott park and wold eat them as a picnic treat

      Reply
    • Scott

      I actually had your dads but I think it was before building became Kelly’s back n 1970s

      Reply
  8. Gerald Vlasak

    I grew up enjoying Spiedies. The “Lupo’s” sauce can be bought online and “State Fair” at major grocery stores such as Kroger’s. Both are said to be great. Many new varieties such as South-west are available.

    Reply
  9. Tim Scott

    I grew up with spiedies at Augie’s on Nanticoke Ave in the 60s when Augie was still running the place. Went to Pancho’s too – then in Vestal below the long gone viaduct on Main St. Wonderful and genuine – lamb only with a slice of Italian bread (no rolls). When I left the east coast, Pancho gave me a recipe close to his. Took me 5 years to figure out what he left out. Never heard of Sharkeys until years later, but he didn’t invent them. Aside from the name being clearly Italian (from skewered meat), Spiedies’ ancestor Arrosticini is still served in Abruzzo (lots of sheep flocks) where the Iacovellis came from. Arrostocini are sometimes lightly marinated with olive oil and rosemary, or basted with that after cooking. Never have embraced chicken, beef or pork versions (even my own); venison is the best substitute for lamb. Oil, wine, wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, basil, mint, some more green herbs and pepper. I don’t remember any rosemary in them at all and Pancho didn’t use rosemary.

    Reply
  10. Josiah Lutcher

    Lived in NY, for years, near the Elmira area. I lived on Spiedies for a large part of my life. This article is the most accurate recipe I can find online and I’m happy to introduce this beautiful sandwich to my friends and family.

    Reply
  11. Tamara Johnson

    For a quickied recipe without all the work, I have always used Wishbone Italian dressing as my marinade for spedies. Never knew about the mint…

    Reply
  12. Rita Foran

    My family uses lots of mint and lots of garlic. And ketchup on a spiedi???? Never!!!

    Reply
  13. Sallie French

    Grew up in Binghamton, NY. I always thought that everyone in the US was eating spiedies. I didn’t realize that they weren’t until we moved to Texas. We didn’t use lamb or mint, but did use chicken and pork. That Italian bread that we bought in Binghamton was pretty good, too Over the years, I always mentioned them to my husband. We finally made some a few years ago. We order Lupo’s marinade online. It’s about time to have them again!

    Reply
  14. Buzz Spencer

    Found Spiedie marinate in MD, Fl and Tx. It is made by Rob Salamida Company. Understand he has nationalized this Binghamton treat and has a product for mail order called “Spiedie Survial Kit” for those who have had the experience in up state NY.

    Reply
  15. Jenny (Woodburn) Willilams

    I grew up in Vestal, so am very familiar with spiedis. I now live in NC and we have several grocery chains that carry Salameda’s State Fair Spiedi Sauce. Now I don’t have to make it myself anymore. We still make a trip at least once a year to visit family and always have a spiedi cookout. Somehow it’s just not the same here in the south, even with the wonderful marinade. It’s probably not having Roma’s incredible Italian bread to go with them! Wish I could arrange to be there for the big Spiedi weekend, but we’re always there in June. One of these days!

    Reply
  16. Todd Haines

    OK So I’m from Binghamton and have lived in either Arizona and New Mexico since age 10. I just might have about 10-12 bottles of Speedie sauce in my cabinet at home. It’s just possible I make them all the time. When I return for visits I buy (or cousins bring) speedies and eat them about once a day. I may have a Sharkeys T shirt in my closet (Dad used to cook them in the alley. I may get the yearly request to make them at the Christmas party (and I never get any leftover to take homeas they get scarfed up. Yeah its a thing!!

    Reply
  17. Doug and Toni Hess

    You know John when I was about 12 yrs. old I remember coming to my grandma’s house and hearing about the spiedie sandwich. I remember asking my mom about it and she said and I quote” Oh honey they are just for adults get a hotdog instead!!!! When I was 16 and I moved out here after her death I finally had one. I loved them. I know that is why she didn’t want me to try them. They were more expensive than a hotdog!!!! Love the memory and spiedies. Toni

    Reply
  18. Beverly Nelson

    I can’t wait to try different receipes along with the product history

    Reply
  19. Judi Dzuba

    My father’s family, the Contento family, started a family reunion over 80 years ago. It continues today. The main entree is lamb speidies. The older members of the family get together 4 days before the picnic to cut up the lamb and mix in the family marinade. It’s my favorite part of the summer.

    Reply
  20. David Hellmann

    Every time I return to the Southern tier, the first place I stop is Lupo’s Char Pit. When I lived in Charlotte NC, Nirchi’s opened up a pizza and spiedie joint there. Way cool !

    Reply
  21. Larry Hess

    Ed, thanks for the recipe. Have tried various myself. This one looks great. Thanks for your efforts. Just visited my son in Binghamton and had spiedies the first night. Never had Lamb always loved Pork best. Larry

    Reply
  22. Bill Evans

    I grew up in Endicott NY most small bars had some old guy out side with a small charcoal grill making spiedies. The Station Inn on North St. Was a favorite.

    Reply
  23. Maggie

    Anyone remember Panchos Pit? Best Spiedies EV ER! Live in Fl now but we still make them on a regular basis. Born in Endicott and amazed these have not caught on anywhere else in the country.

    Reply
    • Tim Scott

      Maggie – Of course! I got started with Augie’s and Pancho’s in the 60’s – when the Pit was a dirt floored dump in Vestal. Pancho was a nice man. See my note above. I made some last week. Lamb only, of course (unless you’ve got venison).

      Reply
  24. Terri Ramia

    My 87 year old Mother still only makes the traditional lamb spiedies. Her recipe is the same one her father brought with him, when he emigrated to Endicott, from Abruzzo. Fresh mint, garlic, lemons, and of course, the leg of lamb, which has been painstakingly trimmed and cut into perfect bite size chunks. I love how you mention the “zuzu”, as that is what we have always called that delicious sauce, sprinkled on the sandwich, directly from an old glass soda bottle, with holes punched in the cap. My family is blessed to still share this tradition with our precious Mama!

    Reply
  25. Steve Dorfman

    Born and raised in Binghamton, always had spiedies at home. As a teenager drove to Lupo’s char pit on Vestal Parkway to enjoy them. Have lived in S.W. Florida for many years and shared them with all my friends. Order Lupo’s sauce online and it is shipped to my home.

    Reply
  26. Linda Dingman

    I believe the reason for mint in the older recipes is because they used lamb. Mint was usually served with lamb. We used to go to Ponchos Pit for spiedies and Auggies for pizza. My youngest daughter lives in Tn and she always has to go to Lupos in Endwell for spiedies when she comes home to visit. We make spiedies a lot in the summer. I also skewer big slices of onions and cook them alongside the spiedies. They are so good on the sandwich. How I miss Auggies and Ponchos.

    Reply
  27. Ted Pratt

    Just moved from JC to Kansas. Made up 10 pounds of Lamb and chicken for friends. Sad to say, they were such a big hit I never got any. I want to hear now is if I should open a restaurant here and chill nothing but that

    Reply

Leave a Reply