by Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff
September 11, 2009

VH1 reality star Terrell Owens and the Toronto Bills are in town to kick off the 2009 season. It’s been a busier than normal offseason for the Bills.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson joined OJ Simpson in the NFL Hall of Fame. I’m not really sure why, it must have something to do with naming the stadium after himself and living off handouts from the league’s successful teams. Good job Ralph!

Poor Ralph hasn’t been able to see much of the Bills lately, as he can’t figure out how the newfangled digital converter box connects to his Philco. Turns out he fired his offensive coordinator Turk Schonert because he confused poor Turk for a seedy beatnik on the reefer and decided to show him the door before Sergeant Friday showed up. Damn those reruns!

To be honest the PD kitchen staff had some stumbles themselves this offseason. The T.O. show was bound to show some secret details from Bills training camp right? Surely it did but after six weeks we found out we were watching Celebrity Fit Club by mistake … watch out for Tina Yothers in the slot.

What to eat?

This week the buffet table is being loaded with spiedies. You’ve probably never heard of them, but they’re worth trying. One of those regional specialties like dynamites or coffee milk that for some unknown reason isn’t made outside their small traditional area.

A spiedie is a marinated meat skewer found throughout the Binghamton area of New York state. OK, so they’re not from Buffalo, but since the Bills are the only team actually from New York spiedies qualify.

The odd name comes from the Italian word “spiedo”; no, not “speedo” it’s the Italian word for ‘spit’ as in the spit you use for turning roasting meat over a fire.

Originally made from chunks of lamb it’s more common to find chicken and pork spiedies these days. Any way you want to go is fine.

Spiedie Sauce

A few commercial blends are available. The most widely available is State Fair. Lupo’s is another. The spicing will vary from brand to brand but they’re all based around vinegar and oil. Italian herbs, vinegar, olive oil …sounds like Italian dressing right? The difference is the amount of olive oil and vinegar used. If you can’t find a bottled spiedie sauce you can use a 16 ounce bottle of Italian dressing and add  an additional cup of white wine vinegar.

If you really just have to make the sauce yourself, try:

2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil (cheap stuff is fine because we’ll be using high heat)
2 tablespoons of beer (see below)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon celery salt

Spiedies Ingredients

About 24 ounces Spiedie sauce (see above)
2 pounds pork, chicken or lamb cut into 1 inch square cubes
Loaf of Italian bread

You also need metal skewers; try to get skewers with a flat or triangular blade – the cheap round ones don’t hold onto the skewered food so you can turn it, they just let it spin around

Marinade the meat for at least 2 hours, but for best flavor do so overnight.

Put a half-dozen cubes onto each skewer, leaving room in between the cubes. If you wish to add vegetables such as peppers or onions alternate the vegetables with the cubes of meat.

Over a hot grill cook the spiedies for 10-12 minutes, rotating so that each side of the cube gets to spend a couple of minutes on the grill.

Fold over a slice of bread and use it to pull the cubes off a skewer. Ready made sandwich – no utensils needed.

What to drink?

Southern Tier brewing company is from the homeland of spiedies – New York’s Southern Tier. They’re well known for their Imperial Series of normal beers taken to 11, as well as their BlackWater Series which is like the Imperial but focused on very strong stouts. Those beers are all great, but too strong for our spiedies.

A spiedie is sort of the salad of the grilled meat world. Lean meat and tart salad dressing like marinade don’t need a strong beer. They need a crisp refreshing beer that is as light as the spiedie itself. The beer shouldn’t be too bitter; bitterness would clash with the tart vinegar of the spiedie sauce. They’ll work much better with a wheat beer, and Southern Tier has a good one in Hop Sun.

Wheat beers come in many styles, and we will hit on a few of them here. American wheat beer is a lighter version of the German hefeweizen style. American wheats are made with a neutral ale yeast as opposed to a hefeweizen yeast. Hefeweizens are made with the yeast of the same name and have spicy, clove and banana flavors – that particular yeast makes some of the same banana and clove flavor and aroma compounds that are found in real bananas and cloves. In general these beers will be made with at least 50% wheat in place of barley. This gives the beer a lighter and crisper flavor and body than an all barley beer. Sometimes a wheat beer will seem to have a tart character, it’s not truly tart – it’s just less sweet than we expect a beer to be. They are not heavily hopped beers, there is usually very little bitterness, hop flavor or aroma. Their lightness is enhanced by the high carbonation levels common to both the American Wheat and German Hefe.

Southern Tier Hop Sun is in the American style of wheat beer. In addition Hop Sun is dryhopped, a brewing process that increases hop flavor and aroma without making the beer more bitter.

American wheats and their German cousins are readily available. The most widely available, and it will still be on some store shelves is Sam Adams Summer Ale. It’s an American Wheat with lemon and a peppery spice added. Harpoon Brewery has a whole family of wheat beers under their UFO line. UFO is a good American example of a German Hefeweizen, and UFO Raspberry is similar but with raspberry flavoring. Long Trail from Bridgewater Corners, VT offers Hefeweizen all year long. Magic Hat calls their wheat beer Circus Boy. Despite being named after Rex Ryan, it’s pretty good with idiosyncratic dry hopping with the mandarin orange flavored Amarillo hop. Giving the Sam Adams Summer Wheat a run for its availability money is Widmer Hefeweizen – any available around here is brewed by Redhook in Portsmouth, NH.

On a national scale, Sierra Nevada introduced Kristalweizen this year; it’s an example of the filtered version of a Hefeweizen.

Why haven’t I mentioned any wheat beers from Germany? As one of the lightest beer styles, wheat beers do not age or travel well, and you run the risk of an old stale beer if you pick up an import. If you must, make sure you check the date codes. It doesn’t get more local than a brewpub, so if you have one nearby check them out and see if they have a wheat beer on offer.

There is another style of wheat beer that would match very well with our spiedies, however it’s a bit odd, takes getting used to and people will either love it or hate it. I wouldn’t make it your only beer on offer. I wouldn’t bring it to a tailgate either, but they’re worth knowing about. Lambic is the type of beer to give to a wine snob that “doesn’t like beer”.

This is the Belgian lambic. Made of wheat both malted and unmalted, this beer is allowed to cool naturally and ferments spontaneously from wild yeast. It can be tart, sour, acidic and sometimes great. Sometimes it will taste and smell like a barnyard. Lambics come in a few styles, sometimes blended with fruit, sometimes a mixture of old and new beer, sometimes unblended. Anything by Cantillon or Boon is worth checking out if this beer style sounds interesting. There are further sour and wild beer styles worth checking out if you try a lambic and find out that you like it. Allagash and Russian River are at the forefront of American wild and sour beer makers. Allagash goes through all the trouble of traditional coelship inoculation.Russian River joins them in using wild yeast and bacteria laden barrels.

The Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff will be back on duty on September 25, prepping our tailgate for the next home game against the Atlanta Falcons.