Gyros

Gyros 2

While some food makes for a memorable meal based on the taste alone, other dishes are favorites in large part due to the memories associated with them. For me, Gyros falls in this second category, and the memories take me back to the local Gyros joint in my home town. I used to love watching the cylinder of meat turn around the rotisserie spit, disappearing for just a moment to allow the magic to happen, appearing again darker and crispy after the rotation, just in time to be sliced off in thin strips by a man in a red shirt wearing a paper hat, wielding an aggressively-sized knife. It could have been a sword for all I knew – I was smaller then, it seemed enormous.

Gyros 2-4

Gyros is one of my guilty pleasures. I don’t have it often, but when I do, I look forward to the rich flavors and texture of the crispy edges of the meat, wrapped in a doughy pita. I can’t imagine that the gyros served at a hole-in-the-wall (where gyros is at its best) is very healthy, so I am thrilled that I have found a workable recipe that tastes just right with a mix of lamb and extra-lean ground beef.

Gyros-2

I am not even 1% Greek, so while I offer you no authenticity, I do offer you a home method that makes a great make-ahead meal. No rotisserie spit required! As you will see, the recipe is made in two stages: first, a loaf is baked (about easy as baking any meatloaf); then, slices from the loaf are sauteed in a pan to both crisp them up and pull some moisture to the surface. You can make the loaf on the weekend and then slice and heat it on a Monday or Tuesday for a quick weeknight meal, or if you wrap it well, you can even freeze the loaf, defrost it in the fridge for a day, and saute it that night {The loaf will be safe in the freezer for a month of more!}. Here is another tip: It slices better when it is cold, whether partially frozen, or just firm from refrigeration.

Serve as pictured here with thinly sliced kirby cucumbers, grape tomatoes and red onions, and crumbled feta on a pita; or use as a protein on a Greek- (or any-) style salad. I don’t naturally gravitate toward sauces, but a traditional tzatziki would be great with this Gyros recipe.

Gyros-3

Gyros
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 t dried marjoram
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried rosemary
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and spray a loaf pan with olive oil spray. Set the pan aside. You will also need a larger pan or casserole dish, to set the loaf pan in when you are baking the meat. {There is no need to spray the larger pan.}
  2. Process the onion in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer it to a fine mesh strainer, and press out and discard the liquid. Set the onion aside for just a minute.
  3. My food processor is not big enough to process two pounds of meat with no liquid, so I mix the meats and spices in a bowl until evenly distributed.
  4. Then, in two batches, process the meat and the onion (using half of the processed onion each time) until it looks less like ground meat and more like a smooth spread. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl and make sure all of the meat gets near the blade.
  5. Press the mixture in to the prepared pan.
  6. Place the loaf pan into the larger pan or dish and place in the oven. Carefully fill the larger pan with water. Trust me, do this once it is already in the oven. Use a tea kettle or pitcher.
  7. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 on a meat thermometer.
  8. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat.
  9. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack ... and now comes the interesting part. The original recipe calls for a brick wrapped in aluminum foil to be placed directly on the surface of the meat. I do not have a brick in my small apartment {nor do I have a tarp, which is unrelated but came up recently}, but I recovered thusly: cover the cooked meat with aluminum foil, and then place a second loaf pan on top of the cooked meat (which is hiding under the tin foil). Place a heavy pan on top (it will balance well on the broad base of the loaf pan). Let this structure sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The temperature will raise during this time, and more fat will probably rise to the surface - drain that off as well after the pressing is complete.
  10. At this point, you can wrap and refrigerate the loaf. If you plan to freeze it, wait to do so until it is no longer warm.
  11. When you are ready to serve, slice pieces from the loaf as thin as you can, and heat them in a large non-stick pan - you won't need oil if you use nonstick. Don't crowd the pan, or else the slices won't brown as nicely. Once they have browned, flip and repeat. Add some chopped pita bread to get it nice and crispy, cooked with the flavoring from the meat.
  12. Transfer to a plate covered in paper towel, and repeat the browning process as needed.

 

Gyros 2-6

Original links: Some combination of these two – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/gyro-meat-with-tzatziki-sauce-recipe/index.html and http://galleydoor.blogspot.com/2012/11/gyro-flies-pepsi-gyro-flies-pepsi.html

Serve with:

Food_013_

Comments

  1. says

    We don’t have many gyros places around here but I always look forward to getting one when we visit another city here that has great places. I haven’t considered making one at home though. Something about tasty well seasoned lamb and very fresh ingredients makes this very suited to the New Zealand climate. Unlike you, I love really saucy gyros. Messy is good!

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