Monday, July 23, 2012

Chicken Spiedies – Is Binghamton’s Best America’s Next Big Sandwich Trend?

If it isn’t, it should be! This incredibly delicious sandwich, invented in central New York by an Italian immigrant named Camillo Iacovelli, breaks all the accepted rules regarding marinating meats, and not only does it work, it’s amazing!

You’ve heard me say on many occasions to be careful when soaking chicken in an acid marinade.  Usually an hour or two is the maximum I recommend, otherwise the meat will actually “cook” in the liquid, much like fish in a ceviche. Here, that’s exactly the idea.

You could almost call this twiced-cooked chicken, except that the food nerds would come out of the woodwork to remind us the meat doesn’t “cook” in the marinade, it becomes “denatured.” Whatever, nerds. All I know is when you grill that "over-marinaded" chicken over a hot, charcoal fire, some serious magic happens.

The term "spiedie" (SPEE-dee) comes from “spiedo,” the Italian word for spit, and simply refers to meat grilled on a skewer. The original protein was lamb, which explains all the mint and garlic in the marinade, which Iacovelli called, “zuzu.”

As I hope you find out, “zuzu” is also wonderful with chicken, and there are hundreds of credible reports of it being fantastic on pork, beef, and venison also. Yes, one taste and I think you’ll understand why this is so incredibly popular in and around Binghamton, NY.

The only mystery is why hasn’t this spread across the country? Seems like a natural. It’s got a great back story, catchy name, lots of room for local adaptations, and a marinade called “zuzu.” Come on, what more do you need? Anyway, every new sandwich trend begins with a single bun, or something like that, so I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 6 skewers:
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (or any boneless meat!)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup wine wine vinegar
1 rounded tablespoon sugar
6-8 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup picked mint leaves

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