Some 30 years ago I stepped into a taverna in Athens, Greece and was captivated by a vertical spit of meat rotating slowly in front of a multi-level charcoal brazier.
The gentleman behind the counter sliced off pieces of meat, piled it on a round of flat bread, slathered it with some kind of sauce. He then added tomato and chopped onion before rolling it up. This I had to try and that first gyro was a major culinary event in my life.
Gyros are surprisingly easy to make at home and it is a great sandwich for both lunch and dinner. This particular recipe uses ground meat. For a more traditional Greek taste, lamb would certainly be preferred, yet beef does a fine job as well.
You can also season and slice whole cuts of pork or ham for a tasty gyro.
- Meat Mixture:
- 1 pound ground lamb (or beef)
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- For the Sandwich:
- 4 rounds of flatbread or pita.
- 1 leaf of lettuce
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- Tzatziki sauce
To Make the Meat Mixture
The first step in making any gyro is to prepare the meat. It is very easy and should take just a few minutes though you will need to let it marinade for an hour, so plan ahead.
- Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a bowl.
- Divide into four equal portions and shape into oblong patties about 3" wide, 6" long, 1/2" thick.
- Notice that the patty is shaped more like a sausage - long and thin - rather than a hamburger patty. This is so the patty fits in the flatbread.
- Refrigerate for one hour.
To Build the Sandwich
You can grill the patties on your outdoor grill or fry them up in a pan on the stove. The goal is to have crisp edges on the patty.
Also, the toppings that go into a traditional gyro are simple: tzatziki, lettuce, tomato, and onion. If you prefer, you can skip the onion because there are already onions in the meat.
- Grill the patties over a hot fire for 3-4 minutes per side.
- Spread tzatziki sauce down the center of a flat bread round.
- Add a lettuce leaf, some diced tomato, and a few thin onion slices.
- Add the patty, fold the bread over the lamb, and enjoy.
Tip: Gyros are messy to eat. You can avoid it falling apart in your lap by wrapping each gyro in foil.