Greek style Gyros are popular worldwide. The gyro has its origins in Turkey and the middle east. Greek style gyros have their own kind of character, but they are similar to gyros that are made in Lebanon. The name gyro refers to the large Turkish döner kabob that turns vertically on a spit. 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 gyro meat loaf turning slowly on a spit at a Greek restaurant. The gyro meat loaf roasts vertically and it slowly turns, so the entires surface of the meat roasts evenly. The gyro meatloaf döner kabob is usually a pre-prepared manufactured item. Many American style pre-manufactured gyro meatloaf döner kababs look rather unappealing and some are just okay at best. Lower quality pre-manufactured döner kabobs have a grayish green color and the meat loaf has the texture of a cheap hot dog. Most of the better quality pre-manufactured döner kabobs are only slightly better in quality than this.
Some of the better Greek restaurants make their own gyro meat loaf döner kabob. The beef and lamb meat loaf that is used to make Greek gyros has its origins in Lebanon and Syria. Lebanese gyro meatloaf is basically a version of kufta. Kufta is a highly spiced Arabic Persian style meatball or minced meat kebab.
Gyros are not only made with gyro meat loaf. If you go to Greece, you will find that most gyros are made with sliced roasted pork. The first time that I had a gyro was in the Lithuanian section of Philadelphia. There are some really good Greek gyro shops in that area. One small Greek restaurant in that area offered two kinds of gyros. Sliced roasted pork gyros and sliced roasted lamb gyros.
I have never eaten a gyro since then, because I thought that gyros were supposed to be only made with roasted meats. I also thought that the pre-manufactured meat loaf gyros were a cheap imitation. I was partially correct. Pre-made manufactured gyro meat loaf is a cheap imitation of a real hand crafted gyro meat loaf! I have never eaten a gyro made with a good hand crafted gyro meat loaf. I saved some ground lamb leg to make fresh gyro meatloaf with in a few days.
For today's recipe, I wanted to show a roasted meat gyro. The first time that I ate a gyro from that little gyro shop in the Lithuanian section of Philly in 1980, it was prepared with roasted lamb and it looked like the gyro in the pictures above. I still remember the second gyro that I had from that good little gyro shop. Roasted pork! It is funny how good food can be fondly remembered for a lifetime!
Grecian Spice Roast Lamb Preparation:
Cut a boneless piece of lamb leg that weighs about 10 ounces. (In Philadelphia, they do serve large size roasted meat gyros! This is enough lamb for 1 large gyro or 2 small gyros.)
Remove any excess large amounts of fat, but leave a thin layer of fat on the meat.
Place the lamb leg piece in a mixing bowl.
Pour 1 1/2 ounces of virgin olive oil over the lamb.
Add 4 cloves of minced fresh garlic.
Add 2 pinches of cinnamon.
Add 2 pinches of cumin.
Add 1 pinch of cardamom.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 pinch of ground star anise.
Add 3 pinches of oregano.
Add 2 pinches of rosemary.
Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Rub the lamb roast with the marinade ingredients.
Cover the lamb and refrigerate for 24 hours, so the lamb marinates with the spices.
Tzatziki Sauce Recipe:
This recipe makes 3 to 4 servings of tzatziki!
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 clove of minced garlic.
Add 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt. (goat's milk yogurt)
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 1/2 ounces of virgin olive oil, while stirring with a whisk.
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 becomes a medium sauce consistency.
Chill the tzatziki in a refrigerator for 1 hour, so the flavors meld.
Grecian 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 375º oven, till it becomes cooked to a medium well done/well done temperature. (A probe thermometer should read 155º to 165º degrees.)
Set the lamb on a counter and let it rest for a few minutes.
Grecian Spice Roasted Lamb Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce:
Place a large 10" to 12" pita bread (khubz arabi) on a countertop.
Place some mixed baby lettuce and baby spinach on one half of the pita bread.
Place a few thin slices of tomato on the lettuce.
Place some very thin sliced onion on the tomato slices.
Cut the roasted lamb into thin slices.
Place the sliced lamb on top of the lettuce, tomato and onion on the pita bread.
Spoon a generous amount of tzatziki sauce over the sliced lamb.
Spear a Greek pepper with a long toothpick or short 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 roasted lamb gyro is absolutely delicious! The roasted marinated lamb is full of flavor. The traditional tzatziki sauce is cool and refreshing. This is a very nice gyro that is easy to make. Yum! ... Shawna