Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gyros at Home with out the Big Rotating Hunk O'Meat on a Stick

Yum Yum Yum... sometimes there is nothing better than a gyro.  This is not something I traditionally make at home, I would much rather head out and bring home a tasty and authentic gyro but where we currently live, no such love exists.  I was successfully able to make a homemade chicken gyro using a recipe from Annie's Eats (her recipe here) and it was really good.  Then my lovely husband reminded me that we could make real lamb gyros at home using the greek meatball recipe that I adapted from Michael Symon's cookbook.  Let me tell you, those meatballs are so good that you can eat them just as they are, but make them a little bigger and you have got the best gyro filling ever!  The good news is if you really don't like lamb, you could use ground beef or ground turkey.  It really is all about the flavor!  These little meatball gems are PACKED with flavor and if you are not careful they could disappear before your dinner is ready to be served.

Now, I have adapted the recipe for the meatballs from Michael Symon's recipe which can be found here.  It is also in his cookbook Live to Cook.  These on their own are absolutely delicious and you will see a few versions of his recipe floating around the internet.  Do make them on their own at some point, I promise you will adore them.  That being said, you will also enjoy them as they have been adapted to become a homemade gyro!  A little advanced planning is necessary for homemade gyros, especially if you are going to make your own tzatiki, so make so you read all the directions before starting this recipe.


For the Meatballs

1/4 cup grated onion
2 cloves grated garlic
2 slices of day-old bread
1 pound ground lamb (beef or chicken can also be used)
1 egg
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half the lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

16 oz. plain yogurt (not nonfat, if possible)
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (or finely minced)
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

For the Gyro's
Pita bread of your choice (I like old world as it doesn't have the pocket)
1 diced tomato 
1/2 a thinly sliced onion

Directions for the Meatballs

Rip by hand or small dice your stale bread and cover with milk in a large bowl and let sit for at least 20 minutes to 1 hour.  Once it has soaked for at least 20 minutes,  squeeze the excess milk from the bread. Add the lamb, egg, garlic, onion cilantro, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix by hand until smooth. Form into little meatballs, about 2 ounces each.  Let the meat rest for about 15 minutes after forming meatballs before cooking.  Use a grill pan or large non-stick skillet to cook.  I use a non-stick griddle.  You should not need any cooking oil for this method as lamb is rather fatty so it will render out enough oil.  Don't worry your meatballs will be lovely and moist due to the bread and egg in the mix. 

Directions for the Tzatiki

To make the tzatziki sauce, strain the yogurt using cheesecloth over a bowl. Let strain for several hours or overnight, if possible, to remove as much moisture as possible.

Shred the cucumber. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.


3 to 4 meatballs per pita depending on your taste and the size of your pitas.  Add diced tomato, a little onion and a nice dollop of tzatiki... enjoy!

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