Monday, November 8, 2010

Gyros at home

One of my favorite things to eat at festivals is a gyro. I love that yummy spicy meat, in a nice warm pita wrap, with the cool tzatziki slathered throughout. At the beginning of October every year, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral near our house puts on the awesome Atlanta Greek Festival. It's usually a 4-day extravaganza. One of my favorite parts is their drive-thru. As soon as the festival opens (on a Thursday), I swing through on the way home and pick up gyros and spanakopita. Once the weekend end hits, we all climb aboard the big tour bus that takes you from the parking lot and head to the festival. In addition to more gyros, we always get these greek potatos which are sort of like steak cut fries with awesome spices and more yummy sauce. (They're also smart enough to have some good ol' fashioned pizza and hot dogs for the pickier of kids, like mine.)

Inspired by the the recent festival, I wanted to make some gyros at home, but who in their right mind would have their own spit with a huge hunk of lamb? To create these yummy things, I headed to the good ol' farmers market.

(This is a hybrid of two different recipes from Cooks Illustrated)

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber; peeled, seeded, and finely diced
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press
1 Tbs finely chopped mint leaves (mine were fresh from my back yard) (or dill)
1/4 tsp salt

Line a fine meshed sieve with 3 layers of paper towels (or use coffee filters, if you have them), place it over a deep bowl, and spoon in your yogurt. (This is where my handy dandy measurer comes into play.)

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and set in the fridge.

Mix your cucumber, salt, and lemon juice in a small bowl, and put this in a colander or sieve.

Let both of these sit for 30 minutes.

Once 30 minutes is up, mix the thickened yogurt, drained cucumber mixture, garlic, mint, and additional salt together. Mmm . . .

Lamb Patties
4 pieces of pita bread (round)
3 Tbs plain yogurt
1 lb ground yogurt (I get mine at the Dekalb Farmer's Market)
2 Tbs fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 Tbs vegetable oil

Cut off 1/2 of pita bread from each round, chop into small pieces, and mix with the yogurt. I'm not necessarily a good judge of what 1/2 inch is (and I'm not about to get out my ruler), so I just eyeball it. I ended up having to add some more yogurt, and the patties were no worse for the wear, so just eyeball it . . . as long as you have extra yogurt to cover your overage. Set this aside for 5 minutes. Mix the lamb, cilantro, yogurt / bread mixture, salt, cumin, and cayenne together with your hands. 

Split the mass in half, then half again, then split each blob into 3 pieces. (If you're bad a math, this makes 12 total.) Form them into cute little discs like this:

And stick the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm them up. While you're waiting for them to firm up, turn on your oven to 350 and wrap your pita bread in a stack very tightly with foil. Once heated, throw those puppies in the oven to be super warm for the  meal. Heat your oil over medium high, and cooking 6 patties at a time, cook for about 2 minutes on the first side until well browned. 

Flip them over, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking on the other side until well browned, about 6 minutes). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 

Then put them all together: pita bread, 3 patties, lots of sauce, and maybe some lettuce (for a nice cool crispness) and tomato if you have it. (I didn't, but I wish I had.)

Yum! John thought they were yummy too, but he and I both agreed that although the tzatziki sauce was good it wasn't nearly as good as the Greek festival. Can someone teach me how to make really yummy authentic tzatziki sauce? (Maria???)

ASIDE: Speaking of the farmer's market, take a look at this stack of spices. 

I bought all this for the measly little sum of $8.29 (I think; the photo gets a little blurry at the bottom). That's, from top to bottom, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin, oregano, basil, nutmeg - the expensive one, chili powder, and poppy seeds. Can you believe all that? Most of those are around 50 cents! If you tried to buy that at the grocery it'd be at least $3.50 EACH! For a total of over $30! So, people, please, if you can, go to the farmer's market!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, man. I am licking my computer screen. I love this idea! Mind if I come over to your blog every so often and drool?