Spiedies, a Tailgating Treat
Follow this recipe to make spiedies, an Old World recipe brought to the New York state area by Italian immigrants in the 1930s.
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Dick and Becky McCoy retired two years ago to Newport, Tenn., where they are happily at home on five acres "on the side of English Mountain."
He was a police officer in upstate New York for 28 years, and she was a police officer in Miami for 25 years. They met on the internet and were married in Florida.
"We really love the lifestyle, the people and the cuisine," Dick McCoy says of East Tennessee. He grew up in upstate New York in a town called Vestal.
Spiedies are "an Old World recipe brought to the (northern New York state) area by Italian immigrants back in the 1930s," McCoy said. "It's a very easy recipe to make and well worth the effort, as they are simply scrumptious and ideal for tailgating. Just bring your grill along."
Spiedies have become so popular in the area of Binghamton, Elmira, Syracuse and Rochester that there is a festival called Spiedie Fest (see www.Spiediefest.com).
McCoy offers these directions:
Cut your choice of meat into cubes about 1 1/2 inches or so. Boneless, skinless chicken breast comes out very tender, but most meats (lamb, pork, beef, venison) will make fine spiedies. If you use pork, use tenderloin. If you use beef, use a more tender cut so it doesn't come out too tough. Veal, especially, may come out tough unless left to marinate for three or four days. Mixing two or more meats is very tasty also.
8 bay leaves (crumbled up)
4 tsp. oregano
8 small cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup salad oil or fruity olive oil (preferred)
3/4 cup vinegar (any variety)
1 tsp. pepper
3 tsp. salt (or to taste)
(If using lamb, add a couple of mint leaves)
NOTE: This is a somewhat tangy sauce, actually a vinaigrette. It will marinate anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds of meat.
Mix sauce ingredients together in a nonmetallic dish. Add meat, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours; stir occasionally. Olive oil will solidify when refrigerated, so remove the spiedies once or twice a day to allow the oil to "melt" and then stir.
Spiedies may be left marinating in the refrigerator for two to five days. Some claim they can be left a week or more. (Longer marinating helps make beef and veal tenderer.) Add more marinade, if required.
Purists insist spiedies must be skewered, shish-kabob-style, and grilled on the barbecue grill for just a few minutes. McCoy says he usually cooks them for 8 to 10 minutes, brushing marinade on them occasionally and turning them every few minutes. Do not overcook.
NOTE: Do not use leftover marinade on spiedies at the serving table because the raw meat may have left unhealthy bacteria in the sauce.
Spiedies are best eaten on large, sliced hunks of Italian bread. For really hungry guys and gals, they're good in a sub bun, and it usually takes two skewers of meat to fill the bun.
The accepted method is to grasp the bread in one hand, place the skewer inside and pull the skewer out, leaving the spiedies inside. Kids sometimes prefer to eat them right off the skewer.
They're also good in a salad. Cooked leftovers (if any) keep well in the fridge for several days.
Variations include melted cheese on the spiedies and grilled green peppers and onions. Some folks also like to put mayonnaise or Italian dressing on spiedies.
"Anyway you eat them, once you've tried them you'll want to include them at your future get-togethers!" McCoy says.
(Contact Louise Durman of The Knoxville News-Sentinel in Tennessee at www.knoxnews.com.)
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