Ask anyone from upstate New York (and specifically Binghamton, where the dish originated) about their regional equivalent of the ubiquitous cheesesteak, and this hypothetical new friend is likely to tell you all about spiedies.
Like so many of our favorite street foods, it’s a sandwich that’s much greater than the sum of its parts: Chunks of pork (or beef, or venison, or lamb) are marinated for 24 hours in a blend of oil, vinegar, and assorted spices, then skewered and char-grilled until caramelized and blackened in spots and served on either an Italian sub roll, or a slice of fresh bread.
The most gratifying part is the “spiedie slide,” where your spiediero (a term I just made up) wraps a loaf of cheap Italian bread whole around the skewer, sliding it out in one motion and leaving the tender, flavorful meat nestled within.
The sandwich doesn’t need any additional accompaniments (except for maybe an additional squeeze of lemon or drizzle of oil); there is so much flavor imparted into the meat from the marinade and the fire, that extras are totally unnecessary.
While there are several varieties of bottled spiedie marinade on the market, it’s super easy to craft your own, which isn’t unlike Italian dressing. The secret to flavorful, tender meat is in the marinating time; most places marinate their meat chunks for at least 24 hours, before cooking over hot coals or on the grill. I suppose you could make them in the oven or in a skillet, but that just doesn’t seem the same. When you’re making killer spiedies at home or in your restaurant kitchen, all you need is meat, fire, and bread…and it seems a shame to omit the fire.
Upstate NY-Style Pork Spiedie Sandwiches
- 40 pounds trimmed pork loin, cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 15 cups olive oil
- 6 cups white wine vinegar
- 4 oz. fresh mint, finely chopped
- 4 oz. fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 oz. fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 10 bay leaves, crushed
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup crushed red chile flakes
- 50 10″ Italian hoagie rolls, split and toasted
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- In a large bowl or hotel pan, toss together pork, half of the oil, vinegar, half of the fresh herbs, lemon juice, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. In a small bowl, whisk remaining oil and herbs with chile flakes, and season with salt and pepper; set sauce aside.
- Thread four or five pork cubes onto metal skewers, and cook over open flame on a gas or charcoal grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Place skewers on rolls; drizzle with sauce and serve with lemon wedges.