Gyros are meatloaf??

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While watching an Alton Brown “Good Eats” episode, I had an epiphany the other day… gyros are meatloaf!!!

Now, before you call me crazy, let me tell you why…

My husband Jimmy is Greek and whenever we go to festivals I always see this big piece of meat on a rotisserie and wonder how in the world do they mix the lamb and beef and, most importantly, how can I make this at home?.. could never figure it out until I realized from watching Alton’s show that it was actually a process very similar to meatloaf! (thank you Alton!)…

now Alton Brown’s version uses only ground lamb but most versions we have tried have been a combination of lamb and beef so I modified the recipe slightly to accommodate both (feel free to modify as you like, if you don’t like lamb, use only beef, or you can add turkey, etc., etc.).

You mix together the ground lamb and ground beef with spices and chopped onions into a meatloaf-type mixture (but no binders such as bread crumbs or crackers as you would with meatloaf)–but the BIG difference is you then put the meat mixture into a food processor to mix it into a paste…THAT changes the texture so it’s more like gyro meat. Then, you can either bake it in meatloaf pans in a water bath in the oven or roast on a rotisserie. I’ve tried both ways and both are good.

If you can’t find ground lamb, ask your butcher to grind some for you. Or you can do like I did and buy a boneless leg of lamb and put it through a grinder. 

Here is the gyro meat recipe (courtesy of Alton Brown and the Food Network) with my modifications…and I added some of my own recipes for tzatziki and pita bread and other twists to the mix):)

1 medium onion, finely chopped 
2 pounds ground lamb or ground boneless leg of lamb (or 1 lb ground lamb, 1 lb ground beef)
1 tablespoon minced garlic 
1 tablespoon dried marjoram 
1 tablespoon Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning (or use whatever spice mixture you prefer)
2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

for sandwich:
thinly sliced tomatoes and onions
Tzatziki Sauce, recipe follows
Pita Bread, recipe follows
Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice.
Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb (and beef), garlic, spices, and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl.
To cook in the oven as a meatloaf, proceed as follows: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Slice thinly and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, sliced onion and tomatoes.
To cook on a rotisserie, proceed as follows: Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap that are at least 18 inches long. Roll the mixture in the plastic wrap tightly, making sure to remove any air pockets. Once the meat is completely rolled in the wrap, twist the ends of the plastic wrap until the surface of the wrap is tight. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, to allow the mixture to firm up. Preheat the grill to high.
Place the meat onto the rotisserie skewer. Place a double-thick piece of aluminum foil folded into a tray directly under the meat to catch any drippings. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Turn off the heat and allow to continue to spin for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Slice meat thinly with knife or slicer.
To put sandwich together:
Take square piece of foil, place one pita bread on top, top with sliced gyro meat, sliced tomatoes and onions, and a dollop of tzatziki sauce.. fold sandwich in foil and serve.

TIP: once meat is sliced, you can add additional spices to taste or pan fry the slices a bit more in frying pan to crisp up the edges.

Tzatziki Sauce: 
16 ounces plain yogurt 
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely shredded (w/grater)
Pinch of salt 
4 cloves garlic, finely minced 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
fresh minced dill (to taste)
4 mint leaves, finely minced (optional)
Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
Place the shredded cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a food processor, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, dill, and mint and pulse until smooth. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Panfried Pita Bread:
2 cups bread (or all-purpose) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 package yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add warm water and olive oil and mix until combined. Gather dough into ball and knead for approximately 10 minutes (this works very well in a stand mixer using a dough hook). Place dough in large mixing bowl covered with olive oil and turn to coat ball of dough. Cover with towels and let rise for 45 minutes. Punch down once risen and divide into 4 small balls of dough.. roll out into small circles on floured cutting board.  Pour small amount of olive oil into bottom of frying pan and warm. Fry up dough circles in pan (on medium heat), turning once to cook both sides (will puff up into pita breads)..keep an eye on it so they don’t over-brown and stay soft. 


So, give this a try some weekend if you have a craving for a gyro, it’s easier than you might think and is MUCH better when you make it yourself! 

One last note–in case you were wondering, the proper pronunciation of a gyro is “yee-row”. 😉


3 Responses to “Gyros are meatloaf??”

  1. charcuterista Says:

    Wow. I’m so glad I saw this article! I love gyros, though I will admit to having wondered exactly what the gyro meat slices were made of. My local butcher sells ground lamb and it’s definitely “the usual” with him. Thanks for finding another great use for it!

  2. Jan Says:

    Thanks for the cucumber sauce recipe!

  3. neurally Says:

    Neurally says : I absolutely agree with this !

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