How Traditional Greek Gyro Is Made

Gyro
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  • 01 of 19

    Gyro Rotisserie

    Gyro rotisserie grill
    © Jim Stanfield

    In Greek, the word gyro or γύρο, pronounced YEE-roh, means turn or revolution, and that's just what this fabulous cone of pork does on an upright rotisserie grill.  Other versions of gyro adapted from the Turkish döner kebap or Middle Eastern shawarma are never made with pork, only lamb and/or beef (sometimes ground), goat, or chicken. 

    Making gyro is a major undertaking, and for a professional like Bobby Bounakis, the process took just under an hour from the time he brought in the fresh pork to...MORE the time the 88-pound gyro cone went up on the rotisserie to start cooking.

    Bounakis knows from experience how many gyros to make every day. The day these photos were shot was a "slow day," so the cone weighed "only" about 88 pounds (40 kilos) to be made into gyro sandwiches on pita bread with tomatoes, onions, tzatziki, and french fries.

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  • 02 of 19

    Start with the Pork

    Preparing Gyro - Start with thinly sliced pork shank or shoulder
    © Jim Stanfield

    A pork gyro starts with thinly sliced pork leg, shank or shoulder meat.

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  • 03 of 19

    The Meat Is Seasoned

    Making Gyro - Season the meat
    © Jim Stanfield

    The pork slices are placed in layers, each layer lightly sprinkled with a seasoning mixture of salt, pepper, sweet paprika, and finely crushed Greek oregano (rigani).

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  • 04 of 19

    The Meat Is Sprinkled with Vinegar

    After seasoning, sprinkle with vinegar
    © Jim Stanfield

    After seasoning, the meat layers are sprinkled with white-wine vinegar.

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  • 05 of 19

    The Process Is Repeated

    Repeat until all meat is coated
    © Jim Stanfield

    The seasoning and sprinkling with vinegar are repeated until all the meat is seasoned and coated.

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  • 06 of 19

    The Rotisserie Skewer Is Set Up

    Set up the skewer
    © Jim Stanfield

    The skewer is set into a wooden base to keep it upright, and the bottom plate for the cone is set in place.

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  • 07 of 19

    The Cone Is Built Up

    Start to build the gyro cone
    © Jim Stanfield

    Smaller pieces of meat are laid on the metal base plate overlapping so there are no spaces between the meat and the skewer.

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  • 08 of 19

    The Cone Is Built Up Even More

    Continue building the gyro cone
    © Jim Stanfield

    As the cone grows, it widens out as larger slices of meat are added. Larger slices are draped around the skewer or threaded over it.

    If there are small pieces hanging out at the edges, they are cut off and used to fill any space between the meat and the skewer so there are no gaps.

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  • 09 of 19

    The Meat Is Compressed

    Press down on the gyro meat during the build
    © Jim Stanfield

    As the cone of meat is built, it is pressed down to compress the meat so it is packed solid. The last step before placing the gyro cone on the rotisserie grill is to place a very thin slice of fat on top. As the fat cooks, it will seep down through the gyro to keep it moist.

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  • 10 of 19

    The Cone Is Placed on the Rotisserie

    Place the cone on the rotisserie
    © Jim Stanfield

    Moving the cone is an event in itself, and once placed on the rotisserie, it is adjusted to a specific distance from the heating elements, turned on and the cooking starts.

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  • 11 of 19

    Gyro Is Ready

    The gyro meat is ready after about an hour
    © Jim Stanfield

    One hour later, the gyro meat has cooked enough on the outside to be thinly sliced. Now, it's time to make a gyro sandwich.

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  • 12 of 19

    The Gyro Sandwich Starts with Pita Bread

    Making a gyro sandwich starts with the pita bread
    © Jim Stanfield

    Pita bread is brushed with a little oil and grilled on both sides to brown and soften, and placed on a piece of butcher's paper.

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  • 13 of 19

    Thick and Creamy Tzatziki Sauce

    Put a healthy helping of tzatziki on the pita bread
    © Jim Stanfield

    A typical gyro sandwich with "the works" will start with tzatziki, a sauce made with thick, creamy Greek yogurt.

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  • 14 of 19

    Tomatoes and Onions Are Next

    Add tomatoes and onions
    © Jim Stanfield

    Slices of tomatoes and onions finish off the tasty additions to a gyro sandwich with "the works."

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  • 15 of 19

    Finally the Gyro Meat Is Sliced

    Slice the gyro meat
    © Jim Stanfield

    Some places use electric cutters to slice very thin pieces and create more gyro sandwiches out of a cone, but at more traditional eateries, an old-fashioned knife is used to slice the meat in juicy strips.

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  • 16 of 19

    The Meat Is Added to the Sandwich

    Add the meat to the gyro sandwich
    © Jim Stanfield

    A large portion of meat is added to the gyro sandwich but there's more to come.

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  • 17 of 19

    French Fries Top It Off

    Add fried potatoes to the gyro sandwich
    © Jim Stanfield

    In the Greek tradition, fries are added to the gyro sandwich. If you're going to eat this famous "street food," it's more convenient than "fries on the side."

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  • 18 of 19

    The Sandwich Is Wrapped

    Wrap up the gyro sandwich
    © Jim Stanfield

    The (huge) sandwich is wrapped up in the butcher's paper it was built on.

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  • 19 of 19

    The Gyro Is Ready to Eat

    One gyro sandwich, ready to eat!
    © Jim Stanfield

    A couple of napkins and a beverage are all you need to accompany a fabulous and authentic gyro sandwich.