I’ve tried gyro meat recipes before, and they’ve always been tasty, but they lack the distinct texture of an authentic gyro. Since I don’t have a rotisseire, it’s impossible to replicate it exactly, but I’ve found a method that’s pretty dang close! It is from Alton Brown. His oven method is pretty genius. The meat is pureed in a food processor with onions and spices, then packed into a loaf pan. Then once it hits the right temperature, a brick wrapped in foil (or whatever heavy objects you have lying around) compresses the meat while it continues to cook on the counter. I chose to make it ahead of time and then refer to a crisping method from Serious Eats. Once the meat is thinly sliced, it is broiled until the edges get crisp and warm. It is served on pita (or my fav soft wrap bread), with tzatziki, tomatoes, and onions. Wrapped in foil if you prefer. Serious Eats tries a method of pre-salting the meat before the puree, which I would like to try next time.
I used 1/4 lb ground lamb, and 1 lb ground beef. This made several very quick meals. Instead of the spices Alton suggests, I used 1 tbsp of a gyro spice mix my grandparents brought me from Greece. No clue what’s in it, but it’s good!
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped or shredded
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Tzatziki Sauce, recipe follows
Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice.
Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl.
To cook in the oven as a meatloaf, proceed as follows:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.
To cook on a rotisserie, proceed as follows:
Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap that are at least 18 inches long. Roll the mixture in the plastic wrap tightly, making sure to remove any air pockets. Once the meat is completely rolled in the wrap, twist the ends of the plastic wrap until the surface of the wrap is tight. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, to allow the mixture to firm up.
Preheat the grill to high.
Place the meat onto the rotisserie skewer. Place a double-thick piece of aluminum foil folded into a tray directly under the meat to catch any drippings. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Turn off the heat and allow to continue to spin for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese.
16 ounces plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
- For the meat:
- 1 pound ground lamb (or ground 85% lean ground beef—see note)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons picked fresh oregano leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 3 ounces slab bacon (or about 5 slices sliced bacon), cut into 1-inch pieces
- For the yogurt sauce:
- 3/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced on microplane
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or mint
- To serve:
- 4 pieces soft, hand-pulled-style pita (not pocket pita)
- Chopped fresh tomato
- Finely sliced onion
- Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
- Hot sauce
Combine lamb, salt, pepper, and oregano in medium bowl. Mix with hands until homogeneous. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to over night. Meanwhile, place yogurt in fine-mesh strainer set over small bowl. Allow to drain in refrigerator for 1 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place cold mixture in bowl of food processor with onion, garlic, and bacon. Process until smooth puree is formed, about 1 minute total, scraping down sides with rubber spatula as necessary.
Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. With moist hands, form meat mixture into rectangle about 1 1/2 inches high, 8-inches long, and 5-inches wide. Bake until center of loaf reads 155°F on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Allow loaf to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes (or refrigerate for up to a week—see note)
Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine strained yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
Adjust broiler rack to highest position (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from broiler element) and preheat broiler. Slice loaf crosswise into 1/8th to 1/4-inch strips (each strip should be about 5-inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide). Lay strips on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broil until edges are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil. Warm bread by placing on rimmed baking sheet and broiling until soft and pliant, about 45 seconds per side.
- Spread 1/4 cup of sauce over each piece of bread. Divide meat evenly between sandwiches. Top as desired, wrap with foil, and serve.