I like gyros. I especially like real, fresh gyros with lamb. I decided that I was going to make real, fresh gyros with lamb… until I found out that lamb, in the panhandle of Nebraska, is hard to come by. None of the local grocery stores or butcher shops carry it. The chamber of commerce recommended I try a local farm that specializes in goat stuff, but I never got through to a person and I didn’t leave a message (because I wanted to make gyros right now), so I gave up after a couple of calls.
See, I think rural, sparsely populated states should have weird and wonderful meats available for purchase. Nebraska is pretty hick, so you’d think you could find some goat or squirrel at the local stores. You’d suspect that there would be some rabbit and duck hanging from hooks in your local meat department. Squirrel and possum should be staples of the local diets. And lamb should be easy to find. But no… apparently the steroid-filled big money makers (beef, pork, chicken and turkey) are the only meats in town. Even buffalo is hard to come by…
So, I figured that the lack of selection that I attribute to living in the middle of nowhere (one of the many wonders of panhandle living) wasn’t going to stop me from making boring beef gyros. I decided I was going to do my own thing. Pork didn’t sound quite right, and neither did chicken…
Sweet & Spicy Porken Gyros
What you’ll need (Gyro Meat):
- 1# Ground Chicken
- 1# Ground Lean Pork
- 1 Large Onion
- 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 2 tsp Oregano Leaf Flakes
- 2 tsp Basil Leaf Flakes
- 2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Smoked Crushed Pepper
What you’ll need (Sweet Tzatziki-style sauce):
- 1 Medium Cucumber, peeled and finely diced
- 12 oz Sweetened Greek Yogurt (I used and recommend “honey”)
- 1 large chopped fresh Jalapeno (seeded or not, depending on your love of heat)
- 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
What you’ll need (Other Condiments, all optional):
- Flat Bread or Pita Bread
- Feta Cheese
- Sliced Tomato
- Diced Onion
- Chopped Fresh Jalapeno
- Any Other Thing That You Want To Put On These Bad Boys…
Scrape the processed onion out of the processor and dump it onto a tea towel. Wrap it up and squeeze the hell out of it.
You probably want to do this over the sink or something, cause onion juice is sticky and smelly and I don’t think you want it all over your floor… or counter… or feet.
Oh yeah… it’s gonna be a party!
Once again, process the hell out of it. You want the resulting mixture to be a smooth paste. And yes, you can play with it if you want… just wash your hands first!
On a side note (this is why I don’t do many recipes… because I get easily distracted and I’m sure that frustrates the hell out of someone actually trying to follow one of my recipes), the “Smoked Crushed Pepper” I have listed in the ingredients for the meat mixture is a creation of my own. I smoked hot cherry peppers with applewood for a couple of hours, then I threw them in the dehydrator until they were crispy-dry, then I ground the hell out of them in the food processor. You probably won’t have this on hand (you should!)… and you probably can’t find this at the store. I like the mild smokiness that this spice gives to whatever I add it, and the mild heat is nice as well. For a substitution, you could do like a tablespoon of regular crushed red pepper and a tablespoon (or so) of smoked paprika (which you should be able to find at most grocery stores… I think… we got it here and we’re pretty hick). You could also substitute a couple of teaspoons of ground smoked chipotle (also might be at your local grocer)… but use teaspoons instead of tablespoons… unless you want the heat! Okay, end of side note 🙂
There are a couple of ways to cook this stuff. Some recommend that you form it into a loaf and refrigerate it and then cook it on a rotisserie. Then you can shave it off like they do at the fancy gyro trailers that you see at the high class county fairs and whatnot. I chose to do it the easier way. I threw it into a bread pan.
Then I put some water in a glass baking dish and placed the bread pan right in the center of the dish. While baking, the water keeps the meat moist… or something else kind of sciency like that.
Place the meat mixture (in the above combination of pans) in the preheated 325° oven and bake the hell out of it for about an hour (you want an internal temp of at least 165°).
While the hell is ceremoniously being baked out of the meat, whip up the special sauce! Everything listed above under “Sweet Tzatziki-style sauce” gets thrown into a bowl and mixed together. Cover it and throw it in the fridge. Easy, huh?
Now, you could use a non-sweetened yogurt and have a more traditional Tzatziki sauce (you’d have to leave out the jalapeno as well). I just thought that a little spicy/sweet would go good on the gyros (and I believe I was correct). The yogurt I used was honey flavored…
… but any sweetened yogurt would probably work. I chose honey because I wanted mildly sweet, I wanted to use Greek yogurt, and I didn’t want my gyros tasting like strawberry. You may want your gyros to taste like strawberry, so more power to you!
Now, if everything is going as planned, the meat is still baking, the sauce is chilling, and you’re wondering what to do now. How about you whip-up a side dish!
THAT’S RIGHT… ANOTHER RECIPE HIDDEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ADVERTISED RECIPE! Just think of it like a blogging Easter egg or something!
Rich’s Roasted Potatoes
What you’ll need:
- 1.5# (1/2 of a 3# bag) Baby Red Potatoes (cut in half)
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (regular virgin would probably work, but we all like extra virgins. Just ask the Muslim suicide bombers… oh… wait…)
- 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Ground Sea Salt (or regular salt, if you’re not a fatty trying to control his blood pressure)
- 1 tsp Oregano (I used the crushed-leaves-stuff , not the whole)
- 1 tsp Basil (again, “leaf flake”… which I grew out back, by the way)
- 1 tsp Rosemary (leaves, not ground)
Throw it all in a zip-style baggie and mix it up! Let it soak and marinate until the meat is done.
Once the meat comes out (later… see, I can’t even write one of these recipe things in the correct order), raise the temp of the oven to 400°, throw the sauced-potatoes on a baking tray, and bake for about an hour.
The meat will be chilling while this happens but will still be warm enough to make for a fantabulous meal once the potatoes are done!
It’s probably way easier to make than this recipe leads one to believe, and it’s some of the best gyro eating I have experienced. The fact that it came from my kitchen made me think I needed to share it 🙂 Let me know what you think…