Grilled Gyros with Tzatziki
The gyro, while not the recipient of the same PR as the hot dog, Italian beef, or Polish sausage, is nonetheless a Chicago institution. There are just some days in the city when you can’t help but stop at the first lunch counter you see with a sun-faded Kronos Gyros sign in the window. There’s just nothing quite like a pita full of lamb and cucumber yogurt sauce and some steak fries with Mediterranean seasoning. That’s a two-fisted lunch.
As good as those stomach-stretching lunches are, they’re pretty uniform in their quality – not a bad thing, necessarily. But this dish, which I ran into at my very first Man B Que event, is the first gyro that made me sit up and ask “wait, HOW did you do this?”
It’s courtesy of MBQ veteran Bacon Fingers (aka Shawn J.), who has the distinct advantage of being a full-time chef for one of our city’s fine grocery chains. Rather than a log of frozen reconstituted lamb meat (the typical commercial setup), he makes a sort of terrine out of lamb, onion, garlic, and herbs. It’s one of those great ideas that you kick yourself for not having thought of first. I asked for the recipe after the first bite, and it’s been in my regular rotation ever since. I’m sure he won’t mind me using it here to evangelize the cause of gyros.
Grilled Gyros with Tzatziki Recipe
By September 15, 2010Published:
The gyro, while not the recipient of the same PR as the hot dog, Italian beef, or Polish sausage, is nonetheless a Chicago …
- 1 lb ground lamb or 1/2 lamb 1/2 beef
- 1/2 cup minced white onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 TSP kosher salt
- 1/2 TSP ground marjoram
- 1/2 TSP ground dried rosemary
- 1/2 TSP black pepper
- 8 oz plain Greek yogurt
- 1 seedless cucumber
- 2-3 TSP fresh lemon juice
- Add all gyro meat ingredients to food processor. Pulse until smooth and consistent, about a minute total. (Alternately, mince the garlic and onions and mix ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl.)
- Press the meat into a thin layer in a loaf pan, lining plastic wrap before adding the meat if you're grilling instead of baking. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Grate the cucumber. Squeeze out water in a strainer, then lay out on paper towels in a thin layer to dry further. Too much water left in the cucumbers will make a thin, watery sauce.
- Throw the yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, and lemon juice into the food processor (or bowl) and pulse together until well-mixed but still thick.
- Remove the meat from the fridge, remove the meat from the pan and grill 10 minutes per side over medium heat. (Alternately, bake at 350 for 45 minutes)
- Grill the pitas 1 minute per side, turning 90 degrees halfway through each side to get cross-hatched grill marks, which science assures us is a pretty sweet look.
- Remove the meat from the oven or grill and let rest under foil for 5-10 minutes.
- Slice the meat thin and serve in pitas with onions, tomato, and tzatziki.
- Optional: I like to have salt-pickled cucumbers in my gyro, which take about five minutes to make and add a sweet, crunchy element to the dish. To make them, just cut up a pound of cucumber[s] into thin slices, then toss with a 3:1 ratio of sugar to salt, starting with 1 tbsp salt and 1 tsp sugar, let them sit 5-10 minutes, drain off the water, and get at them. Make them a few times and you'll get a feel for how much extra sugar and/or salt you'd like. They're great on their own as a snack, too.