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Reinventing the Wheel: Putting a Spin on Gyros.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Today, I'm documenting my latest experiment. The recipe itself is experimental, as is my write-up; I'm using this thread as an excuse to practice the style of recipe documentation I'm developing, it's a practice run to see if I can produce a step-by-step dialogue on how it all comes together, and if it does so clearly. So, if this thread seems overwrought or preachy in places, please let me know, I want to communicate the recipe without over-talking it.


For reference: Development notes and comments will be in green text. 



If you've made it this far, pat yourself on the back, you're now a lab rat!


I really love the gyro sandwich. It's up there with the ultimate hand foods, but I have a problem: I don't have a rotisserie. In fact, I don't even want one. Yeah, yeah, they make really good chickens, roasts and gyros, but I just can't get by with shelling out good cash for something I might use on the most seldom of occasions.

  • Watch me eat my words in ten seconds flat when somebody figures out how to make the Weber rotisserie work with the Smokey Mountain Cooker.

What I do have are a smoker I use alot, a knack for innovation, and friends in my local meat department. I think I can pull something off, and maybe even make it better.

Texas BBQ here on SMF got me thinking about the idea of lamb shoulder on the smoker with his thread: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/120968/bbq-pulled-lamb-griended-bbq-lamb-and-pork-with-2-times-fried-cheese-french-fries#post_806460. Reading through that got me thinking that making a pulled lamb sandwich with a shoulder roast on the smoker might be possible. Heck, it might even be pretty darn good, and it's well within my means.


So, I combed around for some Gyro recipes, and began to formulate a plan.

Phase 1: Prepare a wet rub or thick marinade for the meat using classical Mediterranean flavors.

Phase 2: Make Tzatziki sauce.

Phase 3: Make home made pita dough. 

Phase 4: Marinade the meat overnight.

Phase 5: Smoke the shoulder until it's stupid tender, and grill the pita on my One-Touch.

Phase 6: Assemble said sandwiches, eat them, drink beer, and fall asleep on the couch.

post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 

I borrowed several concepts from Alton Brown's Good Eats Gyro, but also leaned quite heavily on my own tastes and knowledge of spices in order to concoct this marinade.


Starting with fresh ingredients, I diced a medium yellow onion, minced some fresh rosemary, chiffonaded a handful of mint leaves, and pressed about seven cloves of garlic.




To this, I added a tablespoon each cumin, dried oregano, dried marjoram, and dried thyme. I also added two teaspoons of Kosher salt and two tablespoons of fresh ground black pepper (I hope the Greeks don't mind my using a Turkish coffee mill to grind my pepper.)

In retrospect, I should have taken the cumin down to a teaspoon, and the oregano and marjoram down to two teaspoons each. They are more potent than I gave them credit.



For liquids, I used 1/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar, and 1/6 of a cup of Worcestershire sauce.

1/6 of a cup is an oddball measure. It was the difference between the 1/3 of a cup of vinegar, and the 1/2 cup line.




I placed the onion into my food processor, and ground them up into a paste.




I dumped the paste onto a cloth napkin, and wrung out the excess moisture. All told, I lost about a third of a cup of liquid to that. I'm happy with that, because the marinade is tighter.






I also ground all the dried herbs and spices together in my spice mill



After that, everybody got into the pool, and I pulsed the food processor until it was a course paste. About ten times. I then ran it steady, and drizzled 1/4 cup of olive oil into the food processor until it became a thick emulsion.






In the end, I got a total of one cup of marinade from this. I'm happy with that. I let it rest on the counter for an hour so all the herbs and spices can hydrate, and the olive oil could pull the oil-soluble flavors from them.



Edited by I is a moose - 5/7/12 at 3:19am
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Time to get all saucey.

Tzatziki sauce is actually fantastically easy to make. It's pretty much just spiced yogurt. It's wonderful stuff, because it's tart, light, and has some nice bright flavors. A perfect counterpoint to heavier lamb.

Here's what I did:

I took a large cucumber, and whacked the ends off of it:




Peeled it, and seeded it with a spoon.




Diced it up to medium coarseness, tossed it with a teaspoon of Kosher salt, and put it into a small strainer over a bowl to drain for an hour. This is important because the best Tzatzikis are very thick, and you can't have extra cucumber water leaking out.



For flavors, I used two teaspoons of dried thyme, one teaspoon each marjoram and oregano, and one-half teaspoon of cumin, all ground fine.

I also used about eight good mint leaves, chiffonaded, and three cloves of garlic, pressed






Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, I measured a tablespoon of red wine vinnegar and a teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce.




Added the dried herbs first to rehydrate them, then the fresh, and whisked in two tablespoons of olive oil, like I was making a vinaigrette. Once everything was well incorporated, I added 24 ounces of Greek yogurt, which is really thick stuff. It was so thick that I added it in small globs, whisking in smaller bits until they were incorporated, then adding more.




When the cucumbers were done, I added them to the mix, and put it in the fridge for the night.

Edited by I is a moose - 5/7/12 at 3:25am
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 

I pretty much just borrowed Greekfood.about's recipe for pita, but adapted it:

16 ouces all-purpose flour

6 ounces whole wheat flour

12 ounces warm water

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon yeast

2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil.


I just mixed it all together in my stand mixer, kneaded it for ten minutes, let it rest on the counter for thirty, then oiled it, and packed it up for overnight refrigeration. this will guarantee a finer overall texture, and more developed flavor.


Edited by I is a moose - 5/7/12 at 3:26am
post #5 of 20

Glad I have a front row seat for this one

post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

A friend of mine cut me a nice 2.8 lb hunk of lamb shoulder, untrimmed.



I scored the fat cap with my boning knife to help with marinade penetration.




Using the butcher's paper the meat came in as a drop-cloth for the process, I rubbed 1/3 of a cup of the marinade into the roast. I did this so I could really work it into all the nooks and crevasses of the meat. It turned out fairly through a coating.




it went into a large zip-top bag with the remaining marinade. I slushed the liquids around inside with my hands, and put it into a cassarole dish in the fridge for the night.



Edited by I is a moose - 5/7/12 at 3:28am
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

And that's as far as I am today.

Luckily, my pics are on my photobucket account, so I'm off to use a different computer to upload some pictures.


Edit: pics are now uploaded. I guess I have to use Internet Exploder to upload the pics. I dunno.

Edited by I is a moose - 5/7/12 at 3:33am
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 

I'm glad you do, too!



Originally Posted by alblancher View Post

Glad I have a front row seat for this one

post #9 of 20

Wow thanks for this. Great start.  I'm with you I LOVE gyro's!!

post #10 of 20

I am with you on this in every way except the Cumin. I like it in small quantities in Mexican and Indian Cuisine but when over used makes everything taste like an Old El Paso Taco...I am not a big fan of this technique for big pieces of meat but for a small cuts like the shoulder you are using, punching a bunch of holes in that meat with a boning knife and forcing some of the marinade into the holes to flavor the interior of the meat would go a long way to giving the bold flavor Gyros are known for...I think you are on a roll toward some tasty Lamb...JJ

post #11 of 20

looks good so far...........

post #12 of 20

Looks outstanding and I'm in. Thanks so far for such a great tutorial!

post #13 of 20
You have my support!yahoo.gif
post #14 of 20

Love the writing style

post #15 of 20
Lookin' good!

Originally Posted by Chef JimmyJ View Post

I am with you on this in every way except the Cumin. I like it in small quantities in Mexican and Indian Cuisine but when over used makes everything taste like an Old El Paso Taco...

I totally agree, cumin can be VERY overpowering!

post #16 of 20

All looks Agrade from here! Yeeros to me or maybe even souvlaki ,all greek to mebiggrin.gif Couldn't help myself. Cumin ends up in the cooking of so many cultures.Is does take over if you are heavy handed,you look like you got it all figured out. Watching & waiting.

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 

I keep forgetting to bring the memory card from my camera to work so I can upload. I will spare the banter about the results until I've got some pics to back it up. Overall, it was a pretty good bit of Q, though.

post #18 of 20

Argh!  No money shot yet?


I was looking forward to this one.  I'm a big gyro fan.  This looks like it was very tasty.

post #19 of 20

Interesting but it's basically a slow smoked lamb shawarma, not a gyro. Add a cup or so of that mediterranean yogurt to your marinade for an even more authentic flavor/technique.


If that user is still around I would also be interested in the results.

post #20 of 20

Great post man...thanks so much, and keep it coming!

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