It's funny, I spent the first 3 years in Binghamton wishing I was back downstate. I missed the city, the faster-paced life. I missed the downstate bagels and pizza. I missed the good Jewish challah bread, the babka and the black and white cookies that New York is so famous for.
I loved Manhattan, I was always a city girl but recently I find I'm overwhelmed by the crowds. I still love the exceptional ethnic foods available here but Binghamton had it's own perks too. There was a peacefulness to the open space, something calming in the knowledge that country and farmland were less than 20 minutes away. There was a stillness to the morning and a comfort in the stars at night. Most of all there was a sense of pride and community among the locals and a growing interest and effort to better the area.
Although it has become an economically depressed area, Greater Binghamton (also known as The Triple Cities) was once a thriving area bustling with immigrants. It is home to numerous corporations, authors, screenwriters and even some local foods.
The most notable of which, may be the Spiedie.
A Spiedie is a sandwich made of cubed meat in some combination of olive oil, vinegar and Italian spices known as Spiedie sauce. It's marinated for at least 2 days, grilled on skewers and served in a fluffy white submarine rolls. It's a dish local to the Binghamton area and the Southern Tier region of New York. The concept originated from Italian immigrants in the area in the 1920s but there is some debate over who served the first Spiedie.
BBQ chicken and grilled sandwiches may not be unique to the area but, never the less, it is home my favorite pit that serves chicken so delicious - I count the days until it's seasonal opening every March. Next door is the best ice cream shop and 7 miles east, across the river is Lupo's Char Pit which serves chicken or pork Spiedies and some really great french fries.
I know what you are thinking, that sounds like a kebab, right? Wrong. The locals would skewer you if they heard you say that. The concept is similar but the spices are different and the sandwich has nothing but meat in it. The roll is used like an oven mitt to hold the chicken while the other hand pulls out the skewer. It's then served hot and sometimes drizzled with fresh marinade before serving.
Garlic Chicken Spiedies
Instead of using the traditional white sub roll I decided to go with a multigrain baguette for something a little less refined and more flavorful. I used dried spices but if you have fresh on hand go ahead and use them. You could even mix it up and use some fresh some dried but don't leave out the onion and garlic powder in favor of more fresh garlic or onion. Even though I used hot paprika (I brought a jar back from Budapest!), it was not spicy at all so don't worry if you are sensitive to spicy food. If you are still concerned, replace it with sweet paprika.
Serves 8-12 as sandwiches or over salad.
3-4 pounds chicken breast, cubed
2 multigrain baguettes
3 small shallots or 1 red onion
2-3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
Peel the garlic and shallots or onion. Trim the ends and place in a blender. Add the oil, vinegar and all of the spices. Blend until smooth.
Toss the chicken with the marinade and refrigerate for 2-4 days.
When you are ready to grill the chicken, slice the baguette open length wise.
Cut into two pieces horizontally and set aside.
Place the cubes on metal skewers and pack it tightly. Depending how long your skewers are, each will probably hold more than one serving of chicken. Mine each made enough for two sandwiches.
Grill the skewers over medium to medium high heat until the inside is white and juices run clear - about 8 minutes. The outside should be crisp but the parts where the chicken cubes touch will be soft and the marinade will collect there and stay moist.
Remove the skewer (with tongs, don't touch the metal!) and place in side one piece of the baguette and use the bread to hold the chicken while you remove the skewer. Repeat with the other chicken and baguette pieces.
You should now have 4 baguette halves filled with chicken.
Cut each in half to make 8 sandwiches.