Gyro Meat with Tzatziki

Greek food is new food to me.  (Or, Greek food is all Greek to me.)  I am just discovering the wonders of gyro pitas, spanakopitas, and baklava. The only thing I can say is: why did I not try this sooner?  My favorite of all the Greek food I have tried so far is definitely the gyro.  Spiced, delectable shaved meat served in a warm pita with cool tzatziki and crunchy onions? Sign me up.

This recipe does take planning ahead (for both the meat and the tzatziki) and some special kitchen gadgets, but the work is worth the results. The meat tastes exactly as if you bought it from your favorite Greek joint.  This is definitely a weekend treat dinner- something to enjoy on a special occasion or just a really cold Sunday.  The meat can be made to make the pita sandwiches or just eaten as is.  Just make sure you serve it with the tzatziki- it takes the dish to another level.

This meal and post is dedicated to our small food processor who lost the fight against this meat.  It’s sacrifice was not given in vain but in the name of good food.

From Alton Brown

1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground lamb
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 tabespoon dried majoram
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Special tools: tea towel, loaf pan, brick wrapped in foil
Tzatziki, for serving (recipe below)


Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a food processor, process onion for 10-15 seconds.  Remove onion from processor and transfer to a tea towel.  Squeeze onion to remove excess water (there will be a lot of water).

In a large bowl, combine onion, garlic, lamb, rosemary, marjoram, salt, and pepper.  Transfer to food processor (in small batches if needed).  Process for 30-45 seconds, until paste-like.  Press mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to remove all air pockets.

Put loaf pan in a 9×13 baking pan.  Fill the 9×13 baking pan with warm water.  Bake for 50-65 minutes, until loaf is 170°F.  Remove from oven.  Drain off grease from the loaf.  Place brick covered in foil on top of loaf and let sit for 10-15 minutes, until loaf is 175°F.  Slice thinly.  Serve with tzatziki sauce.

To serve as a gyro sandwich:
Heat a medium pan over medium heat.  Heat pita bread, about 1 minute per side.  Top warm pita with gyro meat, tzatziki, sliced tomato, and thinly sliced red onions.

Adapted from Elly Says Opa
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried dill
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Special tools: cheesecloth, tea towel
Secure a cheesecloth over a measuring cup.  Spoon yogurt on top.  Refrigerate and let yogurt drain for at least 3 hours.
Place cucumber on a layer of paper towel.  Salt cucumbers and let sit for at least 20 minutes.  Transfer cucumbers to a tea towel and squeeze to remove water.  Transfer drained yogurt from cheesecloth to a large bowl.  Add cucumbers, red wine vinegar, dill, and garlic.  Mix to combine.  Drizzle olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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