Friday, December 25, 2015

Greek Spice Roast Lamb Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce

     Greek style Gyros are popular worldwide.  The Gyro has origins in Turkey.  The name Gyro refers to the large Turkish Döner Kabob that turns vertically on a spit next to open flames.  The Döner Kabob meat is sliced thin and it is allowed to drop directly onto the pita bread.
     In America, most people are used to seeing a pre-fabricated Gyro Meat Loaf turning slowly on a spit at a casual Greek restaurant.  The Gyro Meat Loaf roasts as it slowly turns, so the entires surface of the meat browns evenly.  A restaurant style Gyro Meatloaf Döner Kabob is usually a pre-prepared manufactured item.
     Pre-manufactured Gyro Meatloaf Döner Kababs are usually made with a meat slurry process that is similar to making hot dogs.  This means that the meat can contain a high percentage of emulsified fat.  The grayish green color of the meat can look rather unappealing and some have a flavor that is just okay at best.
     Gyro Meat Loaf actually originates in Lebanon.  Lebanese Gyro Meat Loaf is a highly seasoned mixture of meat that is prepared like Kafta.  The recipe can vary from one cook to the next.  One thing that is certain about Lebanese Gyro Meat Loaf is that when it is made from scratch, the flavor, color and texture is far superior to any manufactured Gyro Meat Loaf product.
     I published a Gyro Meat Loaf recipe a few years ago and the reaction from readers was good.  The success of that recipe can be attributed to home cooks are not exactly thrilled about buying pre-sliced frozen manufactured Gyro Meatloaf that is extra fatty and discolored.  

     Gyros are not only made with Gyro Meat Loaf.  In the country of Greece, most Gyros are actually made with sliced roasted pork or roasted lamb.  The first time that I had a Gyro was in a Lithuanian neighborhood in Philadelphia.  There are some really good Greek Gyro Shops in that area.  One small Greek restaurant offered only two kinds of gyros.  Sliced Roast Pork Gyros and Sliced Roast Lamb Gyros.
     For a long time after trying a Gyro in Philly, I thought that Gyros were supposed to be only made with roasted meats.  I also thought that the pre-manufactured Gyro Meat Loaf was a cheap imitation.  I actually was only partially correct with this assumption.  Pre-made manufactured Gyro Meat Loaf is a cheap imitation of a real hand crafted Gyro Meat Loaf that is made from scratch!

     Anyway, when making an authentic Greek Gyro, just like they are made at small shops in Greece, roast pork or lamb is the correct choice.  For today's recipe, I saved a portion of raw boneless roast lamb leg and the rest was prepared for another recipe a few days ago.  Leftover roast lamb leg is also good for making a traditional Greek style Gyro.
     Greek Spice Roast Lamb Preparation:
     A section of boneless lamb leg usually weighs 2 to 3 pounds, which is enough for several Gyro sandwiches.  For an individual portion, about a 10 ounce piece of boneless lamb leg is 1 hearty portion.  
     Greek style roast meat for Gyros is highly seasoned.  The name of the game is flavor!
     Step 1:  Cut a thick piece of boneless piece of lamb leg that weighs about 10 ounces.
     Trim off any excess fat, but leave a thin 1/4" thick layer of fat on the meat.
     Step 2:  Place the lamb leg piece in a mixing bowl.
     Season the meat with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 3:  Pour 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil over the lamb.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced fresh garlic.
     Add 2 pinches of cinnamon.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of cardamom.
     Add 1 pinch of ground star anise.
     Add 1 teaspoon of oregano.
     Add 2 pinches of rosemary.
     Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
     Step 4:  Rub the lamb roast with the marinade ingredients.
     Cover the mixing bowl with a lid or plastic wrap.
     Refrigerate for 24 hours.
     Turn the lamb in the marinade occasionally.
     Tzatziki Sauce:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups.  (About 4 portions)
     Step 1:  Place 1/2 cup of finely minced peeled and seeded cucumber in a mixing bowl.
     Add 3 tablespoons of finely minced mint leaves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 6 ounces of plain Greek Yogurt.  (goat milk yogurt)
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 2:  Slowly add 3 tablespoons of virgin olive oil, while stirring with a whisk. 
     Step 3:  The tzatziki will be very thick at this point.  Thin the tzatziki by adding 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time, while whisking, till the tzatziki is a medium sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Chill the tzatziki in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.

     Greek Spice Roast Lamb:
     Remove the lamb from the marinade.
     Place the lamb on a roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Roast the lamb in a 375ºF oven, till it is fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 155ºF to 165ºF degrees.)
     Set the lamb on a counter and let it rest for a few minutes.
     Greek Spice Roasted Lamb Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce:
     This recipe yields 1 large Gyro.
     Pita Bread is very easy to make from scratch.  Store bought Pita Bread is good too.  It seems like the freshest Pita Bread is found at Mediterranean food markets.
     Step 1:  Place a large 10" to 12" Pita Bread (Khubz Arabi) on a countertop.
     Garnish one half of the pita bread with:
     - mixed baby lettuce leaves and spinach
     - thin slices of tomato
     - very thin sliced onion
     Step 2:  Cut the roasted lamb into thin slices.
     Place the sliced lamb on top of the lettuce, tomato and onion on the pita bread.
     Step 3:  Spoon a generous amount of tzatziki sauce over the sliced lamb.
     Step 4:  Spear a Greek pepper with a long toothpick or bamboo skewer.
     Fold the side of the pita that has no toppings over the lamb.
     Spear the gyro pita bread with the long toothpick with a pepper on it, so the sandwich stays folded.
     Garnish the plate with parsley sprigs, Greek olives and Greek peppers.

     This traditional Greek style Roasted Lamb Gyro is absolutely delicious!

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