Friday, July 15, 2011
So, I have to admit... I was a gyro virgin until not too long ago. I honestly didn't even know what they were, and I certainly didn't pronounce the name correctly until my friend lovingly informed me that, "They're called yeer-ohs honey. YEE-rohs." Oops... how was I supposed to know they weren't JY-ros?
But finally last fall at Boise's annual Art in the Park, I popped my gyro cherry and bought one from one of the food truck vendors at the park. I was a little apprehensive - I'd honestly never eaten anything with lamb before, and what the heck was this stuff called tzatziki? But after I took one bite I knew exactly what everyone had been raving about. OMG yum.
I'd never really thought about trying to make my own until I saw this recipe in the cookbook I won from Annie. For some reason I thought the lamb would require hours of roasting and grinding yourself and all kinds of hard work. Boy was I wrong... these things are easy! And talk about tasty! This recipe brought back wonderful memories of that first gyro in the park, and was everything I expected. The cool tzatsiki perfectly balanced the hot onion, and the lamb was juicy and flavorful with just a hint of springy mint. I love the complexity of the flavors... each ingredient shines without overpowering, combining to create a flavor that is truly spectacular. And now that I know how easy these are to make, gyros will certainly be making a regular appearance in my life.
from Big Bowl of Love
yields 4 sandwiches
1 large cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
2 cups Greek yogurt
8 paper-thin slices red onion
8 1/4-inch slices tomato
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons canola oil
4 pieces Greek pita bread
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1. Make tzatziki first. Place all ingredients for tzatzki except for Greek yogurt in a bowl and mix well. Add the Greek yogurt and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
2. In a bowl, combine the lamb, onion, scallion, parsley, mint, mayonnaise, bread crumbs, salt, and cayenne pepper. Using your hands, mix all the ingredients together well. Form 8 cylinders (about the size of a sausage) 4 inches long and 1 inch wide.
3. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet on high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and heat until it starts to smoke. Add the lamb and turn the heat down to medium. Saute, turning every minute for about 12 minutes. Remove from the skillet and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing.
4. Brush the pita bread lightly on both sides with the remainder of the oil. To heat the bread, using tongs, hold each piece over a gas burner or grill and move it back and forth for 20 seconds on each side, until heated through. Be careful not to burn it. Place the bread on a plate and cover to keep warm.
5. To assemble the gyros, slice the lamb into long, 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place 2 to 3 spoonfuls (or desired amount) of tzatziki over each piece of warm bread. Place 1-2 slices of each tomato and red onion on the bread and top with a small amount of shredded lettuce. Place sliced lamb on top.
6. Lay a square of foil in front of you with one of the corners at the bottom (so it looks like a diamond). Fold the top half over 3 inches. Place a folded gyro on the foil, leaving 2 inches of the foil showing at the bottom. Fold the sides over the gyro, one at a time, to create a leak-resistant pouch just like the ones you'd get at a street vendor. :)