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Gyro Burger

I didn’t feel like going full on Alton Brown on the little bit of ground lamb I had so I just added a ton of garlic, cumin, ginger, and a store bought Greek seasoning powder and fried it up like a basic burger.  I very nearly ruined the tzatziki.  Never use a stick blender if you think the cukes are not diced finely enough.  Just don’t.


Leg of Lamb

20160410_132001I brought up a leg of lamb from the basement freezer and decided to go the pressure cooker route.  It was a little over 4 pounds and fit nicely in the Instapot.  I added 2 cups of broth and dusted the leg with a spice mix made up of garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, salt and pepper, and set the timer for 65 minutes per the table in Bob Warden’s cookbook (45 minutes plus 20 for frozen).  Needing thin slices for a gyro, I cut them from the cooked roast and browned them in oil in a skillet, dusting them with more of the spice mix.20160410_133147_HDRThat HDR software works pretty well on gyros, too!  I used fresh dill in the tzatziki this time, and a squeeze of honey, otherwise it’s the basic Alton Brown recipe (sans mint).

Mmm… homemade pita for gyros

DSC_0228 (1600x1060)We had gyros yesterday using store bought pita loaves and they just weren’t that good.  I’m guessing the turnover on flat breads isn’t very high and they were a tad stale.  I’ve made pitas before but it’s been a while so I looked up a recipe.  The NY Times recipe came up first and it looked to be easy.  We didn’t have any whole wheat flour, fresh milled or otherwise, so these are made with plain AP flour.  The only thing you need to watch for is getting them too brown.  The recipe warns:  “The pita should be pale, with only a few brown speckles.”  The brown parts are very dry and fragile and crack apart rather than fold.  I have a pizza stone in my oven, big enough to do two of these at a time without crowding.  A couple of them puffed up like little pillows but most of them just blistered here and there.DSC_0230 (1600x1060)The loaf is from Alton Brown’s recipe, as is the tzatziki sauce. I make a few alterations in his recipe, adding 1/3 part hamburger and several slices of bacon to the loaf recipe and this time I added fresh chopped dill to the yogurt sauce.  I haven’t used lettuce before but I thought it needed a little more green and we had no mint for a garnish.

Mmm… gyros

DSC_8538 (1600x1060)Back by popular demand! (Mrs J wanted some.)  These are made with 2 lbs of ground lamb, 1 lb ground beef, 5 slices bacon, an onion, a couple tablespoons of garlic, some ground thyme, rosemary, oregano, black pepper, and salt.  Whirl the onion in your processor and squeeze out the water, then run everything in the processor until it’s just a paste.  I divided the result into two loaf pans and cooked them in a water bath until they reached 165 degrees.  Drain the fat and weight the cooked loaves with foil wrapped bricks as they cool on the counter.  Chill and slice thin, then broil until the edges brown.  The tzatziki is the usual: Greek yogurt with minced cucumber – squeeze out the water, garlic, oil, and a splash of red wine vinegar.  I went looking for mint but had to settle for some fresh oregano to chop into the sauce.  Worked fine.

Mmm… Gyros

DSC_8100 (1600x1060)The mint is starting to come back.  I doubt we can eat enough gyros to eradicate it during the normal course.  It’s wildly invasive and this patch has been sprouting anew for years now after more than a few attempt to kill it off.  I suppose we can live with it.

The gyro meat and tzatziki sauce are both from Alton Brown’s recipe.  I sliced the loaf thin and broiled it a bit in the toaster oven this time, I usually brown it in a saute pan in a little olive oil.  The resulting brown crust adds to the flavor and is worth the extra time.

I see a lot of recipes for gyros that call for shredded lettuce and I’ve seen some served with French fries right in there but the first gyros I ever ate had only the meat, the sauce, and the tomatoes and onions rolled into a warm pita so that is how I do them.

Food Pr0n – Gyros and Tzatziki

DSC_6840 [1600x1060]We found some ground lamb the other day in the huge market in the neighboring town.  We get over there once a week but don’t stop in for the groceries too often.  When we do stop in, I try to make a quick survey of the goodies they stock.  Usually a better selection of cheeses there, and I’ve grown fond of their antipasto bar.DSC_6847 [1600x1060]

I usually go with Alton Brown’s recipe for the gyro meat but looked for something different this time, not that this recipe is all that much a a change.  It worked well.  I didn’t use any ground beef with the lamb for mine, and added some ground coriander as per a suggestion in the comments to the recipe.  The tzatziki sauce was the usual, cucumbers, garlic,yogurt, chopped fresh mint, a splash of red wine vinegar, a bit of olive oil, salt, and the juice of half a lemon.  Be sure to drain the yogurt, and squeeze the water from the cukes.  Greek yogurt is better than regular but it still has plenty of extra water.  The tzatziki wants a little time to come together but you can eat it freshly made without a significant taste penalty

Grilled Chicken on Naan with Tzatziki

DSC_6551 [1600x1060]I’m tempted to pass this off as a chicken gyro, not otherwise knowing just what to call it.  There is probably a well known name for these in some part of the world but I am drawing a blank.  It was quickly thrown together for a lunch before I went out to start the weekly lawn mowing.  Taking a break from that chore to stretch my legs.  I always make way more tzatziki than the two of us can easily eat but it works on plenty of things other than the traditional gyros that introduced me to it.  It’s quite good on fresh tomatoes – we have a lot of those this year, unlike last year when the drought and 110 degree days just ruined the crop.

Greek Salad

DSC_6492 [1600x1200]We needed to finish out the ground lamb we had thawed so gyros were in order.  I looked for suggestions for a side and saw mentions of a Greek salad in several places.  A search for “Greek salad” turned up one from Rachael Ray.  It turned out rather well, I think.DSC_6496 [1600x1200]

Sammich Pr0n – Gyro Dogs!

DSC_6274 [1600x1200]I just could not resist doing this.  I thought about it yesterday when I noticed how sausage like those ground lamb kebabs looked.  These sport a dollop of the tzatziki sauce and a sprinkle of chopped tomato and onion, garnished with a chiffonade of mint.


DSC_5772 [1600x1200]Still using Alton Brown’s recipes for these.  Mrs J has been on a mint eradication jihad in her front garden and has had some success, enough that I couldn’t find any to garnish the plate tonight. She also dug out an old gnarly rose bush that the mint was growing up through.  DSC_5769 [1600x1200]I did alter his method a bit, informed by my reading from the Serious Eats web site.  I kept the lamb cold for the processing, it was nearly so cold that the paste was stiff enough that my machine had all it wanted to spin.  I have no idea if the “leakage” of liquids from the loaf was affected for good or ill.  I cooked it in a 300 oven until the thermometer reached 165 which was higher than the second fellow recommended.  I did do the slicing and broiling trick to get a bit of crisp on the meat.DSC_5771 [1600x1200]And I did add some mayo to the tzatziki, again influenced a bit by the Serious Eats discussion, but it otherwise was Alton’s recipe.  I can’t say it helped any and I’ll leave it out of the next batch but YMMV, as the kids say these days.  I will note that his Food Lab blog is the place that taught me how to do French fries right.  Enjoy!DSC_5777 [1600x1200]