I told Malcolm that I once went to a spiedie festival and was therefore the resident expert to write a little intro to this recipe. But now as I sit here typing, reclined on my bed, I cannot recall a single detail of such an event, which leads me to believe I was lying.
Spiedies are a specialty of upstate New York, near Binghamton. We used to visit my mother’s sister there every summer of my childhood, until she got divorced and moved home to Connecticut. My father would drive the minivan up Route 17, past places with names like Fishkill and Fishs Eddy. We’d stop at the Liberty Diner, an uneven country restaurant filled with denim-suited locals throwing shade, then on to Endwell, where my aunt’s family lived. We’d go to the town pool and shuck corn in her backyard and every afternoon the skies would darken into a bruised shade of bitter purple and thunder would rumble in long, low crescendos, shattering the humidity with lightning.
I hate that kind of weather. I’m frightened of August. Maybe that’s why I have no memory of a summer fair featuring herbed cubes of meat cooked over open flame and served with a bun. I almost remember that there were hot air balloons hovering in the spaces between mountains. Spiedies are the the kind of food you crave when you go to college, and want to recreate when your adulthood ends up keeping you away from home longer than you meant to be. They are indivisible from a specific place and time. Which makes them one of the things we love. A food that connects one to memory, even if that memory is mostly made up.
- 1½ lb. trimmed pork loin, cut into 1¼″ cubes
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 5 tbsp. finely chopped mint
- 5 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped oregano
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 bay leaf, finely crushed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 2 10″-long Italian hoagie rolls, split, toasted, and halved
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- In a large bowl, toss together pork, ¼ cup 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.
- Place oven rack about 4" below broiler, and set to high. Thread four or five pork cubes onto metal skewers, and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Cook, turning once, until charred and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Place skewers on rolls; drizzle with sauce and serve with lemon wedges.