March 31, 2010

A Labor of Love

What is spiedini? I will tell you. It is beef sirloin that has been sliced painfully thin, pounded into submission, breaded, stuffed and rolled onto a toothpick with a bay leaf and quickly broiled to produce the most satisfying two bites of heaven you will ever know. It is essential to be aware of the many steps that go into to creating these lovely morsels. Because it is only after experiencing the slicing, pounding, breading, stuffing and rolling (for just two bites!) first hand that you come to understand that to make spiedini is truly a labor of love.

Our family makes spiedini for very special occasions (at Christmas, assembly lines are formed and Generals are appointed), and only for our dearest friends. Truthfully, if you’re not related to us, there is very little opportunity to actually procure one of these suckers. There is one particular party that my parents give every year where I am called home and Nonna is actually flown in to help with party preparations, including the making of the spiedini. The invite list is selective and usually consists only of my parents’ closest friends and trusted colleagues… You see, when my family invites you into our home, really what we are doing is inviting you into our kitchen.

Of course there was this one year where my dad’s friend and colleague came, along with his wife, and camped himself out right in front of the spiedini platter for the entire party. There were no left-over’s the next day. We would later come to know this man’s true colors, and all I have to say about that is, to this day, I’m reluctant to serve spiedini to anyone outside of the family. In fact, as I’m writing this, I hesitate to even share with you the recipe.

However, I have the ability to be reasonable on this subject. I can recognize that it would be unconscionable to allow one (or in this case two) bad persons to ruin the spiedini experience for the masses. So I give to you this recipe with a pointed warning, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but this in no way means you should feed them spiedini.


Thick sirloin steak, trimmed of fat
Two bunches of green onions, chopped
2 or 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Genoa salami, chopped
Good quality Italian breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Bay leaves

In terms of the amount of meat used for this recipe, I’m afraid you will find my guidelines very unhelpful. We rarely make spiedini for less than thirty people, so generally we end up with about half a cow’s worth of sirloin. For the purposes of this blog, I used about 2 lbs of meat, which made enough spiedini for me and Tom for dinner, and an afternoon snack the next day…

Slice the sirloin against the grain into about 4 inch long strips. Pound out the strips so that they are barely a ¼ of an inch thick. The pounding portion of the spiedini-making process is extremely therapeutic, which is why I suspect my Dad has become the family’s official speidini pounder- to cope with being the lone Polish guy in the midst of 100 crazy Italians. He even has his own mallet.

Oil and bread the sirloin slices, and lay out in one layer on a large baking sheet covered with tin foil.

Proceed by placing a piece of onion, tomato and salami on each breaded slice.

Roll the breaded slices as tightly as you can, securing the roll with a toothpick. Two spiedini to a toothpick separated by a bay leaf. Nonna will tell you to make sure the bay leaf is sticking up…it makes the toothpick prettier.

Broil rolled spiedini on the toothpicks 3-5 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Sprinkle with some kosher salt. Be aware of who you’re serving these to, and enjoy!


  1. Anina, I love, love, love the journey through Nonna's kitchen into yours. It's only Wednesday morning, but I'm already lusting after some of the spiedini. I'm not related, but I do know the pleasures of the kitchen of your childhood. I'll have to be extra good so that I'm never kicked out!

  2. I don't think you emphasized the importance of the pounding enough. It really is the most important step and a mallet in the wrong hands can destroy a great spiedini!

  3. Sandy- We could never kick you out, you're too much fun!

  4. what does it mean exactly to be aware of who we serve these to? who are they better for? carnivores?