I have some fabulous memories of summertime growing up in New York. As a kid, our first hint of summer was when the Good Humor Ice Cream truck would start canvasing the neighborhoods, and the lot of us would scream at the top of ours lungs for him to stop. My favorite ice cream bar of all time was the Good Humor Candy Center Crunch. Somehow, I felt as if I had struck gold. Not only was I allowed to get an ice cream, but with the addition of this solid chocolate candy bar in the center, I felt extra special!
Summer also meant home grown tomatoes. My parent's loved to garden, and back there it seemed so much easier than here in Arizona. The soil was nutrient rich and dark. A huge turn from cement like red clay we have here.
My parents also loved to compete with the neighbors when it came to their tomato plants, especially who could grow the biggest. I remember one summer, about 1972, when the folks had my brother and I blow up red balloons and attach them to our plants. They had me pretend to water them while they took a Polaroid instant picture with one of those bright flash bulbs. Dad & Mom then had us run on down to the neighbors, boasting of our huge faux- 'mater plants, while they sat back laughing their tail ends off... We still crack up over it to this day!
But I have to say that for our family, in summertime, especially the 4th of July, meant one thing- Spiedies! Cubes of lamb, venison, beef or chicken are soaked in a vinegar, citrus and herb based marinade for a few days to a few weeks, then skewered and grilled over an open flame, and served on soft Italian rolls. They are a regional New York favorite, and about 26 years ago the Annual Binghamton Spiedie Fest was born.
While some may think it strange to marinade meats for a week or two at a time, it worked perfectly when using lamb or venison, removing any gamey traces, producing a tender, juicy end result. This here is my recipe, based upon family input and my childhood memories.
4 large bay leaves, coarsley crumbled
4 tsp oregano
5 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/8 c fresh lime juice
1/2 c good quality olive oil
3/4 c either red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp pepper
3 tsp kosher salt
3 lbs of either lamb, venison, beef or chicken- cubed
Soft Italian rolls
Combine all ingredients except meat in a large, sturdy Ziploc bag or bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add meat. Let marinate at least 2 days, up to a week, in coldest part of fridge. Periodically stir ingredients. You will notice olive oil will slightly solidify. When ready to cook, remove from fridge and let come to room temperature before skewering. Grill to desired doneness, using caution not to overcook! If desired, bring remaining marinade to a boil for at least 7 minutes, and drizzle over spiedies. Enjoy!