It's easy to enjoy a favorite regional food such as the spiedie far away from its origins and with variations added to taste -- without requiring a grill. Pronounced "speedy," this Italian-style delicacy is so popular in its home of the Binghamton, New York area, it enjoys a festival celebrating its existence. To make traditional spiedies, grill marinated and skewered cubes of meat before nestling them inside a long sandwich bun. Originally made with lamb, your imagination can dictate which carnivorous direction your sandwich takes. Even if you don't fire up a grill, try making your own version of the spiedie.
In the Oven
Braising the meat in a hot oven yields a double bonus: it renders tender morsels while offering a delicious sauce that can be used as an au jus. After marinating the cubes, cook them on medium-high heat on the stove top just to the point that the outsides are browned, sealing in flavorful juices. Combine the meat and desired braising liquid or sauce -- for safe consumption, do not use the marinade -- and cook covered in a medium-hot oven until fork-tender. If you want that skewered-spiedie effect, cook skewers of meat directly on a roasting rack in the oven, turning occasionally for even cooking. If using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes or longer in water to prevent them from burning. Metal skewers should be turned with an oven mitt or tongs. When the meat is cooked through, allow it to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before eating, which gives time for the juices to pull back toward the center.
On the Stove Top
The moist-heat method of stove top cooking renders flavorful and tender chunks of meat that are a delicious variation. Rather than marinating the cubes of meat first, brown them in a splash of hot oil, then stew the meat in a spicy, tasty liquid on medium-low heat to add a multitude of flavors. For another variation, take marinated cubes of meat and sauté them in oil on the stove top in a heavy pan until cooked through. Spoon drained cubes of meat on the bread and top with your favorite sauce.
Old-style spiedies were made from marinated lamb that was rubbed with a paste of garlic and herbs and brushed with a vinegar-based sauce throughout the cooking process. Choose the traditional lamb, or try pork, chicken or even beef. A vinegar and oil dressing provides a quick take on this tradition. Consider adding herbs such as garlic, basil, oregano or mint. If you want a heavier sauce, add fuller-bodied flavors, including soy sauce, chili sauce, wine, broth or Worcestershire. Marinate meat overnight in a resealable plastic bag or in a glass dish covered with plastic wrap before cooking. If you don't have the time for a marinade, simply splash a sauce over the cooked meat before serving.
When searching for the right bun, choose one that is connected at one end. Although you can allow your taste to drive, selecting one that provides a "pocket" allows the juices and meat to remain inside the bread. Hoagie, submarine, hot dog or even a split Italian, French or ciabatta offer different profiles.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends cooking meat to an internal temperature threshold to ensure safe consumption. Cook lamb through to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by an instant-read meat thermometer. Chicken needs a slightly higher internal temperature of at least 165 F. Pork and beef are safe at an internal temperature of 145 F. Take care not to overcook the meat or it can become tough.
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