If you had to choose one type of cuisine for the rest of your life what would it be? For me I’d go Greek, what about you? I would delight in one of my guiltiest pleasures – gyros.
Gyro is an iconic Greek dish which is arguably the most popular food among tourists. It packs in a lot of flavors into every bite just enough to satisfy your cravings. Go zen with your sandwich options and try out a gyro sandwich. You will feel painfully full in the best way.
What is Gyro?
Gyro (pronounced yee-roh) is an all-time favorite wrap sandwich that is a staple of the Greek Cuisine with a variety of meat fillings and vegetable options.
It is a sandwich made of a blend of finely ground meat including pork, lamb, beef, fish or chicken that is roasted and cut into paper-thin slices which are piled on pita bread and topped with onions, spices, tomatoes, roasted potatoes, cayenne pepper, and tzatziki.
Tzaziki is a creamy white sauce made from strained yogurt infused with cucumber, salt, pepper, garlic, and dill. Lemon juice, mint, and parsley can also be add-ons.
How is the Gyro Dish prepared?
The meat is first marinated overnight or for a couple of hours, rubbed in a mixture of spices, herbs, and oils. It is then sliced into paper thin flat slices which are placed in a tall, erect rotisserie that keeps turning slowly in front of a burner.
Fat trimmings are interspersed, and more fat is added just in case the meat lacks enough fat to retain crispness and moistness while roasting. The cuts are seasoned with spice mixes including salt, hot and sweet paprika, oregano, garlic powder, dried parsley, fennel, coriander, and black and white pepper.
There are tons of gyro machine for sale in the market which are convenient and time savers compared to the manual production especially if you want to make a large batch.
The roasting process is slow and adjusted to ensure a juicy cut. As the meat cooks, the lower cuts are blasted with juices running from the uppercuts. The result is a well seasoned, tender, moist meat. When ready, the surface of the meat is sliced into crisp thin cuts and rolled on grilled pita bread with salad toppings and spices.
Gyro vs. Shawarma
Both gyro and shawarma are staple cuisines of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Both are meat dishes cooked at high temperature on a rotating spit and sliced into thin strips. These delicious sandwiches have gone mainstream all over the world.
Most people confuse gyros with shawarmas. Well for both meat shavings are sliced from a large vertical cone that turns and roasts all day. The meat cooks in its juices and both originate from the same ancestor: the doner kebab.
The difference lies in the actual meat preparation
With gyro, the meat is often a combination of beef and lamb that is tightly pressed into a loaf before being roasted on an upright rotisserie. The meat is then sliced into thin shavings and served on Greek pita bread and topped with salad dressing and tzatziki. It has so many toppings.
For shawarma, the meat slices used include chicken, beef and lamb. The meat is marinated close to 24 hours in a variety of seasoning, spices, and condiments. Shawarma features a wide range of toppings include fattoush, tahini, hummus, tabbouleh, unlike gyro that is strictly tzatziki. It is also served in pita bread.
Shawarma allows for flexible cooking compared to a gyro. A gyro is specific on the blend of meat but shawarma allows for slight wriggle room, and even chicken can be used.
Also, shawarma is big on the flavor of the meat than the toppings. That’s why it is marinated all day in a variety of seasoning and spices resulting in tangy meat.
But at the end of the day, these sandwiches are both freaking delicious.
Fun Facts about Gyro
- In Greek, gyros mean to turn.
- September 1st is National Gyros Day.
- Even though it is one of the most famous Greek cuisines, it’s one of the most mispronounced foods. The G is silent since there is no letter G in the Greek language.
- The technique of grilling meat on a vertical spit was developed in Ottoman Bursa in the 19th century.
Traditional Gyro Recipe
- Two medium sized red onions sliced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 5 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 20 tablespoons tzatziki sauce
- ¼ tablespoon salt
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- One large tomato sliced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Blend the onions in a food processor until finely crushed. Take a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze out the liquid.
- Mix the lamb and beef thoroughly with the spices. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it sit for 2 hours for the flavors to blend.
- Preheat the oven to 165 ℃ (325 ℉)
- Place the meat mixture in a food processor and pulse it for 1 minute. Pack the meat mixture into a loaf pan tightly and ensure there are no air pockets.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes until it’s no longer pink in the center.
- Pour off any excess fat and juices and let it cool slightly.
- Slice the meat into thin shavings.
- Gently open the pita bread and fill it with the meat shavings.
- Nestle the salad dressing of sliced lettuce, red onion, and tomato inside the pita along with the meat slices.
- Sprinkle feta cheese and finish with tzatziki sauce.