Thursday, June 19, 2014

Recipe: Spiedies

Friends, I am about to do what no upstate New Yorker does lightly. I am about to share my spiedies recipe.

Understand, this isn't my actual spiedies recipe. This is an approximation of how I make 'em, jotted down for the first time ever during a recent spiedies-making episode.

The main principles which my method follows are... wait, what?

What are spiedies?

Oh. Spiedies (pronounced "speedies") are a regional dish found within roughly 60 miles of Binghamton, New York. They are chunks of spiced, marinated meat, eaten in a sandwich. When I was a kid I thought they were called "spiedies" because they cook very quickly. Now that I am grown up and have Google, I'm able to find out that nobody knows why they're called spiedies. When I was a kid they were almost always made with beef. Nowadays I think they are more often made with chicken.

Anyway, spiedies are not good for you, but I like to think my version is less-not-good-for-you than others.

Warning: Spiedies are addictive.


2 large garlic cloves
1 lb (450 grams) organic free-range boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp Jane's Crazy Mixed-Up Salt (optional)
1 T1 fresh basil (about 8 leaves)
1 T fresh sage
1 tsp fresh oregano
4 spearmint leaves and 2 peppermint leaves (or 1 tsp combined fresh mint)

Chop the garlic and set it aside to rest.

Combine the olive oil, vinegar and lime juice in a large measuring cup. Add the turmeric, pepper, and salt. Set aside.

Chop the herbs; set aside.

Remove all fat from the chicken and cut it into chunks or strips no more than 1" in size. Put the chicken in a bowl or plastic bag.

Beat the oil, vinegar and lime juice briskly with a fork for 1 minute. It will separate immediately, but at least you tried. Add the garlic; stir. Add the herbs and stir thoroughly.

Pour this marinade over the chicken and stir well. Marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours or more, stirring occasionally in a vain effort to get the oil and vinegar back together.

The olive oil may solidify in the fridge. For this reason, I prefer to use a plastic bag. Frequent vigorous (but not too vigorous) squishing of the plastic bag can reliquefy the oil.

Once the spiedies are marinated, remove them from the liquid. Fry them. (The oil will tend to splatter, so you might want to cover the pan. Alternatively, they can be skewered and cooked outdoors on a grill.) Drain on paper towels or paper bags, and serve in your preferred sandwich wrapper. I like to use toasted Italian bread. Traditionally nothing joins the spiedies inside the sandwich. It's just spiedies and bread. 

Alternative for those avoiding starches: Cut each chicken breast into three or four thin cutlets, instead of chunks or strips. Marinate. Then, instead of frying, spread the marinated spiedies on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. (Slice and make sure there's no pink inside.)

The fresh herbs, by the way, are why I prefer to make spiedies in the summer. But don't go out and buy all that stuff if you haven't got it growing. And if you have thyme, which grows wild in much of upstate New York, use that too. Just use whatever you have, in whatever combination you want. Spiedies are essentially a state of mind.

1 If using dried herbs, use 1/3 as much. 1 T fresh= 1 tsp dried. 1 tsp fresh= 1/3 tsp dried.

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