Homemade Gyros

If you’ve not already come to the conclusion after reading a few of my recipes or from reading of my various efforts in the “granny arts”, I should go ahead and tell you that I get an inordinate amount of satisfaction from making things myself rather than having someone else make it for me. Sometimes my fascination with all things homemade is easily explained — homemade usually means no harmful additives or unwanted nutritional evils. Other times, though, my fascination sounds as though it may lie somewhere near the border of culinary masochism.

IMG_0811Today’s recipe might be considered one of my more masochistic recipes. Considering that — for most of my life — I’ve never lived more than a few miles from a Greek or Lebanese restaurant and could easily sit at a table and have this dish brought to me with a lot less effort, one should wonder why I’d want to go to the effort of making it in my own kitchen. I have to admit, though — regardless of how nice it is to occasionally not be responsible for cooking my own dinner — sitting down at a restaurant and having plates of food brought to me takes out that little spark of discovery that I crave. If it can be bought in a store, I’d bet that I’ve thought of making my own at least once or twice. It’s usually James who has to talk me down from my dizzying aspirations.

I suppose this explains how I arrived at the notion of making Homemade Gyros served with Homemade Tzatziki Sauce and Tomato-Feta Relish on Homemade Pitas back in the summer of 2004 (I should add that this was before James came along). IMG_0813I loved gyros so much that I couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to make them myself. Though I’ve later discovered that what I created was not truly Gyros but actually a better example of a Persian dish called Koubideh, the recipe is still a hit for large gatherings of family and often makes believers out of skeptics who feel they don’t like Greek food. Besides, I’m still not completely sure how one is supposed to pronounce or spell Koubideh (nor does it sound altogether appetizing, for that matter).

Today I’ll be sharing with you the two main components of this meal: Homemade Gyros and Tomato-Feta Relish. The recipe I use for Homemade Tzatziki Sauce can be found here.

To be honest, many of the times I’ve put this meal together, I’ve put the flour and yeast back in the pantry and decided to just use store-bought pitas. A part of me is always saddened to do that, but sometimes you need to take a few shortcuts, after all. Recently I did this, though I still wore a homemade halo because the tomatoes and cucumbers we used were home grown! IMG_0812So there — I couldn’t make homemade pitas because I was too busy GROWING the friggin’ relish!

With a little strategy, putting this meal together for your next party can be a cinch because it is a make-ahead wonder. The gyro patties can be assembled the night before, the Tzatziki sauce tastes better after it has sat over night, and the Tomato-Feta Relish can be assembled in a matter of minutes an hour or two before serving time. You can then serve the gyros piping hot from the skillet or grill and your guests can assemble their sandwiches themselves.

Homemade Gyros Dinner
A Tales of Thyme & Place Original
Serves 6-8

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    Gyro Patties:
    1 pound ground beef (ground round or a little leaner)
    1 pound ground lamb (you may use pork, chicken, or additional beef if you prefer)
    1 medium red onion, minced
    4-5 large cloves garlic, finely minced
    salt & black pepper (to taste)
    2-4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons dried mint, crushed
    2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed

    Mix all ingredients together and divide into 6-8 rounded rectangular patties about 1/2″ thick. Cook over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray (or on a grill) for about 4 minutes on each side or until done. Let cool for about 7 minutes; slice patties lengthwise into strips. Serve on warm pitas with Tomato-Feta Relish, chopped romaine, and Tzatziki Sauce.

Since no two feta cheeses are alike, no package of ground meat is quite the same as the one before, and people’s idea of “salty” is hard to pin down, you’ll want to adjust the seasonings to account for all of those variables. Feta cheese, in my opinion, can be super salty, so I usually put less salt in the mix than I would if I were making hamburgers. Also, the herbs need to shine through, here, so if you can’t smell them once you’ve mixed everything together, you may want to add more. A good test of your mixture before forming the patties and cooking them: put a wee small chunk of it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds — just enough to cook it thoroughly. Once it has cooled, give it a taste test. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
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    Tomato-Feta Relish:
    1-2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
    1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
    4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
    salt and pepper (to taste)
    dried or fresh oregano (to taste)
    dried or fresh mint (to taste)
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons finely minced onion
    1 large clove garlic, finely minced

    Mix all ingredients together; allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Stir well before serving.

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With the spread on the buffet table, your guests will think you’ve worked your poor fingers to the bone! No need to correct their assumption — just be sure to look as disheveled as possible and sigh when you tell them, “It was no trouble at all.” While your guests are going back for seconds, the skeptics won over, you can sit back and stare at your homemade halo knowing that the little bit of effort was worth it!

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~ by Jason on August 13, 2010.

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