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An iconic food in upstate New York, speidies were a summer barbecue staple for my family and you’re guaranteed to love them too.
When my dad fired up the grill in the summer when I was a kid, it wasn’t for your typical burgers and dogs. Nope, in the Southern Tier of upstate New York summertime grilling meant one thing…spiedies.
What’s a spiedie you ask? Well, it’s cubes of meat that are marinated in a special “spiedie” sauce, skewered and grilled. We didn’t bother with fancy buns or toppings (if you even attempted to put ketchup on your spiedie in my house you would quickly be shown the door), but instead used a fresh slice of Italian bread to pull off the meat and immediately indulge. Everyone got their spiedies pre-marinated and bagged from Lupos, a local purvyor with a monopoly on the market thanks to their secret and unbeatable marinade.
We never knew what they put in that magic sauce, (I’m pretty sure it was a combo of vinegar, olive oil, garlic and fairy dust) and the thing is, we never asked. We never had to because it was easy peasy to drive a mile and pick them up, all ready to be strung on skewers and slapped on the grill.
Ah, but what’s a girl to do when she moves away from home and craving her native food? Well, Lupos does sell and ship that sauce, so I could stockpile it for summer grilling, but it just doesn’t feel the same. So instead I’ve spent some time tweaking my own version. After experimenting with fresh and dried herbs (I’ve settled on a combination), the vinegar to olive oil ratio, just the right amount of garlic cloves, and the sweet and salt…I think I’ve got it.
The other trick is just how long you leave the spiedies marinating in the frig until they’re just right. I strongly recommend at least overnight, and even better (and if you can force yourself to wait), two nights. The taste we’re looking for is a mellowed-out garlic, a bite from the vinegar and all of those herby flavors infused in the meat. Lamb was the meat of choice growing up and I think it still ranks as my favorite, but due to cost and availability chicken has since replaced it as the most popular choice.
Now you can play around and serve your speidies how you see fit (just please no ketchup), but definitely give one a try the old fashioned way, simply served in a slice of Italian bread. I can’t promise that my version tastes exactly like Lupos (my grocery store doesn’t seem to stock fairy dust), but they are pretty damn good. Just make sure you give them time to marinate and do their thing. And I hope you enjoy a little bit of my hometown at your next barbecue!
- Spiedie Marinade
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 6 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 dried bay leaves crushed
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh mint chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- *metal or bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 mins
Spiedie Marinade: Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and whisk well to combine.
Add the olive oil in a steady stream while whisking and set aside.
Alternatively process all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor until well blended.
Spiedies: Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Put the chicken cubes in a ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the chicken.
Seal the bag and refrigerate at least overnight or even better, 2 days.
Preheat a grill to med/high heat.
Thread the marinated chicken on the skewers (about 8 or 9 cubes per skewer) and grill about 5 mins per side, turning once.
Serve with sliced Italian bread or rolls.