Sunday, February 7, 2010

Homemade Greek Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

Since moving here, we've really missed the incredible restaurants we had back in Texas. {We didn't eat out much but when we did we had the most wonderful places to choose from. I won't even go into the poor excuse for Mexican restaurants here. My, we miss our TexMex.} One such place that I have craved many times since relocating is Niko Nikos. Good heavens are their gyros the best! Made fresh when you order, wrapped up in foil with a pile of seasoned fries and yummy tzatziki. They're so good and worth waiting in a line out the door for.

Since we only make it back home once or twice a year, my gyro craving has been left totally unsatisfied. I was determined to figure out a way to duplicate them here. Honestly, I was skeptical that I could even come close. I mean, how exactly do you make gyro meat at home. It's lamb and beef pressed together and roasted rotisserie style. I don't have a rotisserie and wasn't confident I could create the right meat mixture. But after a lot of research (and some great tips from Alton Brown), I've finally found just what we've been missing so much! So here's my gyro and tzatziki recipes. No fancy equipment required. And no waiting in line either.

Let's start with the gyros. Here's our ingredient list for the meat:
1 lb. ground lamb
1 lb. ground beef, 80% lean
2 heaping teaspoons oregano
2 tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 medium onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced or crushed

First, chop the onion. No need for a fine dice here, just give it a rough chop. Dump the onion into a food processor.
Puree the onion for about 30 seconds, pausing to scrape down the sides.
Dump onion puree onto paper towel {I use two paper towels for this for added strength}. Squeeze out the onion juice. Discard juice or save for another purpose.
Put the drained onion puree back in the food processor. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until well combined. {Note: I have a rather small food processor so I couldn't fit both pounds of meat. Instead, I blended the spices with the lamb in the food processor and then in a bowl mixed the lamb mixture with the beef.}

Press the meat mixture into a loaf pan being sure to pack it down well. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven and set on a wire rack. Now, place a layer of foil over the meatloaf and set something heavy on top. I used two quarts of chicken stock but a brick or a couple of heavy cans would also do the trick. The idea here is that you keep the meat pressed down tightly as it cools. Cool for 30-45 minutes with the weights. Remove weights and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. {Chilling overnight isn't crucial but I think it helps develop the flavors.}

Remove from refrigerator and unwrap. Thinly slice the meatloaf. I use an electric knife
for this.
To brown the strips of meat, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add several strips of meat in a single layer. Brown for approximately two minutes per side. Remove meat from pan to a plate covered with a paper towel. Add another batch of meat to the pan. No need to add more oil. Repeat in this manner until all meat is browned.

Now for the tzatziki sauce. Tzatziki is a delicious greek yogurt sauce. Mmm. I love this stuff.

Here's what you need for the sauce: 1 ¼ cup greek yogurt
1 English hothouse cucumber

2 cloves garlic
½ tsp. dill
2 Tbsp. lemon juice {or half lemon squeezed}
Generous pinch of kosher salt
Pinch ground pepper
Generous pinch of sugar

First, peel and seed the cucumber. To seed it, slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scoop seeds out with a spoon.
Grate the cucumber.
Gather up the pile of grated cucumber in a tea towel or two layers of paper towels. Squeeze out the liquid and discard. Mix the drained cucumber with the yogurt and remaining ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Taste for seasoning. {I added a bit more sugar and salt.}
To serve the gyros, wrap in pita bread with tzatziki sauce, sliced onion and tomato. I use this recipe for pita bread as suggested by my friend The Prairie Girl. Click for the printable recipes: Lamb and Beef Gyros and Tzatziki Sauce.


Kelly said...

My mouth is watering. I've tried gyros twice and failed miserably but I love them. Definitely printing this one for next week.

Jennifer said...

Those look delicious, I bet my kids would eat those up.

Becca said...

These look amazing! Gyros are my favorite but I have a hard time finding a restaurant that does them well, consistently. I still haven't found a match to my very first gyro, at the Greek Orthodox festival in Seattle when I was in high school. My mouth waters... Going to have to do this. Thanks!!

Jackie said...

These look delicious! I'm not a fan of gyros but hubby loves them so I will have to try this recipe. Your fries look great as well! What recipe do you use for them?

The Notetaker said...

Jackie - the fries are Ore Idea the freezer section. Ha!

Lea and Valerie Bailes said...

YUMMY! I was JUST talking about making Gyros with Kate and then you posted...must be our how our pregnant minds work together. I can't wait to try this's intense-looking, but I'm SURE worth it!

Lea and Valerie Bailes said...

Okay...I"m back and I made them...FANTASTIC! LOVE THEM!

laura beth said...

I finally made these last night... WOW-- just like Nikko Nikko.... Taziki sauce was amazing too!!! I am going to make your shepherds pie with the left over meat I think tonight. Thanks for all you do!!! Hoping all is well with you all.--- lb

Craig Mann said...

Em, this recipe is genius. The process of baking, then cooling, then slicing and using a skillet to brown the slices is perfectly brilliant.

I need to try it soon.

Megs Stapleton said...

I love Nikos Nikos!!! We have Olive Oil in The Woodlands and I am lucky I don't have to travel downtown to eat some great greek food. I can't wait to try this recipe. I so want to be able to make this at home.

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