Spiedie Spaghetti

No, that is not a typo; spiedie does not refer to alacrity but to a popular Binghamton specialty of marinated meat cooked on a skewer. Despite a great deal of local legend surrounding the origin of spiedies they most likely arrived with Sicilian immigrants in the form of spiedini which in turn probably derive from shish kabob introduced to the island by the Moors in the 10th century.

In the Binghamton area, spiedies are cubes of lamb, pork, venison, chicken, or even swordfish and shark. Purists insist that they must be lamb or pork and that chicken spiedies are an abomination invented by people too cheap to buy the right meat. Nonetheless, today chicken spiedies appear to be the most popular. Venison is the choice of the many hunters in the area; beef or seafood of any sort are viewed with suspicion as possibly being invaders from downstate, i.e. NYC. My own preference for spiedies is pork sirloin, a nice flavorful chunk of meat from behind the ribs and in front of the pelvis of the hog—loin is too lean, in my opinion, and shoulder too fatty.

Spiedie marinade, to cut to the chase, is pretty much Italian salad dressing (for which statement I may well be run out of town). And, of course, it is another topic of much debate. Purists insist one must make it from scratch using olive oil, vinegar, and herbs especially mint and oregano (see my point about the Italian dressing?). There are two commercially prepared marinades available fairly widely in the Northeast, one from Sam A. Lupo & Sons in Endicott, NY, the other from The Rob Salamida Company in Johnson City. Those who follow this blog know that I eschew prepared ingredients almost to the point of obsession. I make an exception for spiedie marinade for which I prefer Salamida’s State Fair Spiedie Sauce.

I buy the pork for my spiedies from MaineSource, the retail division of Binghamton-based Maines Paper & Food Service which has several stores in the Central New York and Northeast Pennsylvania. It comes in roughly 10-pound vacuum packages containing three or four sirloins. I cube all the meat then, unless I am having a party, marinate what I can use in a few days and freeze the rest. The last time I made spiedies I decided to try dividing the cubes into three one gallon-sized freezer bags and pouring in the marinade. After a day in the refrigerator I popped the bags, marinade and all, into the freezer.

Which brings me back to the story of the spiedie spaghetti sauce. The problem with this scheme is that once I thawed three pounds of meat we had to eat it within a reasonable time. And, much as I love spiedies, four straight days of them is a bit much. By Sunday, I had a pound and a half of pork cubes left in the refrigerator and absolutely no desire for yet another meal of spiedies. So, I thought, spiedies are Italian, spaghetti is Italian, surely there is a way to combine the two. Aha! Ragù alla Bolognese!

First I drained the meat, reserving the marinade, ground it, browned it in a bit of olive oil, and set it aside. Then I sweated a simple soffritto of onion, garlic, and bell pepper—a bit of carrot is nice too but I was out of them. When soft I added a 28-ounce can of crushed Italian-style tomatoes, the reserved marinade, and some herbs from my garden: basil, thyme, parsley, and a sage leaf. After letting the sauce simmer for a half hour or so I pureed it with a stick blender then stirred in the meat. Then I put water on to boil in which to cook the pasta. By the time the pasta was done another half hour or so had passed and, with a bit of salt added to taste, the sauce was ready.

Ecco spiedie spaghetti!


8 responses to “Spiedie Spaghetti

  1. Paul Vogel July 26, 2013 at 15:17

    we have a speedie food truck in the dc area

    Paul Vogel

    Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2013 19:04:54 +0000 To: pvogel@hotmail.com

  2. Joe Begenwald July 26, 2013 at 15:28

    Hey, Leo.

    This one I might give a shot this weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes.



  3. Carswell King July 26, 2013 at 18:36

    We don’t have either of the pre-made sauces you’ve mentioned here in Canada but this sounds good. Chicken or fish for me – that’s all I eat (not cheap just don’t like meat)! Can you recommend a home-made Italian dressing recipe?

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