The ground lamb got me thinkin' about gyros, and after a surprisingly difficult search for gyro recipes, I realized a few things:
1. Apparently the gyro is a sly and mysterious creature; one that nobody can agree on in any aspect whatsoever. An almost magical creation that seems to somehow appear on the plates of diners across the world without any real knowledge of how it actually got there. A divisive and elusive little recipe that inspired in me the determination to figure this little bad boy out.
2. "Real" Greek gyros use pork, and sometimes chicken and veal. "Greek-American" style gyros utilize ground lamb and beef.
3. The way the meat, the sauce, and even the accompaniments are done vary from region to region, even in Greece.
4. Creating the "cone of meat" was not going to be possible at home. We were going to have to come as close as possible using another method.
5. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (author of the Food Lab article discussed below) is a genius.The genius, mentioned in item #5 above, wrote this article, which is a MUST-READ! This is a "Food Lab" article and was so helpful in understanding the science behind gyro meat. Okay- don't be scared by the word "science"...even I could understand it. Basically, they conducted experiments and posted the results. The conclusion was that 5 things were really important; salting the meat 2 hours in advance, incorporating enough fat, keeping the meat cold, avoiding over-cooking, and emulsifying the fat through mechanical mixing (i.e. a food processor). From their pictures I felt pretty confident that they knew what they were talking about, but there was still a little doubt in my mind. Like any sane person conducting a scary food experiment, I invited my parents over for dinner. If it was a nightmare, I was guaranteed that they would still love me afterwards.
One more problem with homemade gyros...flatbread. A lot of you will be able to pick it up at the market, but I couldn't find it anywhere here (I actually couldn't even find it in Atlanta). So, we had to eat my mom's homemade flatbread; as you can see, it's not very pretty be we made it work. (Okay- I'm kidding....it's BEAUTIFUL and was soft, and pliable, and perfect)!
So, you really do need to click on the link above and read that article. However, I'm still posting my recipe here, as I changed a couple of things just a tiny bit. Check out this meat! After baking it in a loaf, you slice it and then crisp it up under the broiler. It's almost like the real thing!
The meat actually held together like the article claimed it would! Don't ya love it when you're not lied to?!?!
MMM!! Served with tzatziki sauce (our own version- yall know we're some cilantro-lovin' fools), garden tomatoes, garden cucumbers, sliced onions, and hot sauce. A success!
For the meat:
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1 lb. ground beef (about 75%-85% lean)
- 2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 4 slices bacon (thick-sliced)
- a 6 oz. container plain Greek yogurt (I used low fat)
- 2 tbsp. mayo (as always, Duke's)
- 1 medium/ large clove garlic
- juice of half a lemon
- 2-3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 6 pieces flatbread (NOT pita bread)
- diced fresh tomato
- thinly sliced onion
- diced cucumber, peeled and seeded
- hot sauce
Combine lamb, beef, salt, pepper, and oregano in a mixing bowl. Mix with your hands until well mixed, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. *This time is important!
After 2 hours, you can start with the rest of the process. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Pulse the onion, garlic, and bacon in a food processor until pureed. Add the beef/lamb mixture to food processor and puree, scraping sides down with spatula as necessary, until you have a smooth paste. (Note- this will look disgusting, as you might imagine any meat in "paste form" would). Place meat on a foil-lined baking sheet. Shape into a loaf, about 12" long x 6" wide x 2" high. Refrigerate for another 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, make the tzatziki sauce, cover, and refrigerate. After the loaf has chilled for 10 minutes or so, place on middle rack of oven and bake for about 1 hour (or until internal temp reads 155 degrees). Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. (*At this point, you can refrigerate loaf until ready to serve, at which time you simply slice and cook under the broiler until crispy on each side).
After meat has rested, slice into 1/2" (or thinner) slices. Lay slices in a single layer on a clean baking sheet and cook under broiler for about 2 minutes. Turn slices over and broil other side for another 2 minutes, or until meat is crispy and browned on the edges. Now you're ready to serve! Place 3-4 slices of meat on each piece of flatbread and allow everyone to dress their gyro as they like. Oh- and serve in foil wrappers if you wanna really feel like you're eating at a real gyro place!
Oh, and prepare yourselves for more lamb recipes to come. As I sit here the smell of lamb steaks stewing in broth is causing my stomach to growl. A Turkish lamb and yogurt stew is in the works and hopefully it will be worth posting!
******Per your requests, here's the flatbread recipe from my mom....
here is the flatbread as far as i can remember :
scald : 2 cups fat free milk (i reckon you could use whole milk, but this is what i had)...('scald' is when tiny bubbles appear around the edges and there's a bit of steam....don't boil)
add : 1/4 cup 'chobani' lowfat plain greek yogurt
mix well and pour into a kitchenaid mixer bowl
let cool till 'warm' to touch
add : instant yeast (probably 1 1/2 tbsp.) ; stir ; let sit for 5 - 10 minutes
add : 1 tbsp lite olive oil (or vegetable oil)
add : 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour and 2 cups 'king arthur'
bread flour, plus 3 tsp. real salt, and 1 tsp vital gluten flour
sprinkled over ; mix, using the
tips of your fingers just on top of the liquids, just to slightly blend in
the gluten and salt....
then turn on your mixer (using the bread hook) and begin to
(here's the 'tricky' part)...you'll probably need to add about 2 more cups of flour (it could be less...it could be more....you will have to be the judge)......i just add about 1/4 cup at a time (alternating between bread flour and plain flour)....just keep incorporating flour until mixture comes away from the side of the bowl.....
oil the sides of the bowl and let dough rise (covered with a kitchen towel) for 30 minutes)....
in the meantime, preheat oven to 500*....
when dough is risen, turn it out onto an oiled surface, and cut into 6 pieces ; let rest about 5 minutes, while you prepare 3 large insulated cookie sheets with cooking spray ; working quickly, shape the pieces of dough into oblong, flat 'pizza-like' forms ,oh, probably about 8-9 inches long, by 6-7 inches wide... (you can do this by alternately turning and 'dangling' each piece...then plop it on the pan to finish shaping if needed...there should be a few nice bubbles which you don't need to flatten out)....
at this point, i placed the cookie sheets in plastic garbage bags and set them in the fridge for about an hour (i wanted to cook them at the time when they'd be fresh for dinner)....but i think you could bake them right away if you so desired.....however, if you only have one oven, you may want to slow down the rising a little by putting 2 pans in the fridge while you bake the third.....
or not!.........even with 3 ovens, i prefer the one-pan-at-a time method, because you have to watch them closely or you'll cremate them!
now....here's the fun part!....baking!.....your oven should be nice and hot (preheated at 500)....but NOW you turn it on 'BROIL'.....pop a pan under the broiler (about 5 or 6 inches from the element) and 'broil' your bread until it's golden with spots of dark brown....watch closely!...this will probably take only 3-5 minutes!....then, slide the pan out, flip the breads over and place on the BOTTOM rack of the oven and continue 'broiling' about 5 more minutes or until lightly golden.......
remove from oven and run a stick of cold unsalted butter over the hot surfaces of the bread....stack on (and between) kitchen towels to cool (make sure the towels are clean and dry and drape over the sides of the bread)....this will help insure a soft, 'bendable' flatbread....
we reheated these in foil at dinnertime and were 'swahz-a-lahz'!....they didn't seem to be as good the next day as they were fresh (although we didn't reheat them).....AND....we didn't have any more of carli's awesome 'gyro lamb' to go on them, so that possibly could have been the difference! :>)
hope these turn out okay for you as i'm writing from memory