A gyro (Greek: γύρος, gyros, literally ‘turn’) is made of meat cooked on a large vertical rotisserie, typically the meat is pork, chicken, beef, veal, lamb or mutton, and usually served wrapped in a flatbread such as pita, with cucumber, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce.
Middle Eastern shawarma, Mexican tacos al pastor, and Greek gyros are all derived from the Turkish döner kebab, which was invented in Bursa in the 19th century by a cook named Hadji Iskender.
Now, I love gyros (and tacos al pastor, and schwarma, too, come to think of it), but here’s the thing…
I don’t know about you, but I don’t happen to have a “large vertical rotisserie” laying around my kitchen (yet), the need to cook meat for 100 people each time I want a sandwich, nor am I ready to shell out seven hundred bucks, just to feed my occasional turning meat jones.
So what’s a cash-poor chef with a big hunk of ground lamb to do? He improvises, baby!
Now, I have grilled many, many thousands of burgers, thick and thin, over the fire, or in the pan, and while I’m the first to admit it’s not exactly the same, but for ease of preparation, flexibility in servings, and simplicity of gear needed…these are pretty freakin’ good.
I skillet-cooked this batch, but I’m very optimistic at the prospect of repeating this recipe over live fire.
Easy Skillet Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce
1/2 med sweet onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground lamb
1 Tbs finely minced garlic
1 Tbs dried marjoram
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbs fine sea salt
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
Tzatziki Sauce (recipe follows)
8 ounces plain yogurt
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoons red wine vinegar
6 mint leaves, finely minced
8 thick slices of a large tomato
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
4 whole wheat flat breads, warmed
1 fresh lemon, quartered
Prep your toppings and chill, covered.
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Bring a dry skillet to medium high heat. Press each meatball between two layers of butcher paper until 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Fry each lamb patty (I’ve found it’s easiest to leave the top layer of paper on until it’s in the pan, as the heat will make it easier to peel the meat off of it) quickly, 1-2 minutes per side. Again, this step can be done over the direct heat of a hot grill as well, and might taste even better!
Slice and serve on flat bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes, feta cheese, and a spritz of lemon juice.
Oh, and while not part of any traditional gyro recipe I could find, I like to sprinkle the tomatoes with a little more black pepper and a little celery salt, before wrappin’ it up.
Place the chopped cucumber in a towel and squeeze to remove excess liquid; discard liquid.
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve on gyros.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups