The gyro (pronounced yeero) might just be Greece’s most famous sandwich export. The meat for this pita wrap is typically lamb, though beef is frequently added. It is ground and formed into large cones that are cooked on vertical rotisseries. The meat is carved away in thin strips and put on flatbread with a yogurt tzatziki sauce, onions, and tomatoes. We love them. Unfortunately, they are not that accessible to the average home cook. Our solution is to use ground lamb, formed into meatballs and threaded onto a skewer. The grill gives it a touch of smoky flavor, and all you need do is pull off the cooked meatballs and place into a pita bread.
- 455 g (1 lb) lamb mince
- 225 g (½ lb) beef mince, 90% lean
- 4 to 5 mint leaves, finely copped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp paprika (not smoked)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- 6 to 8 skewers
Feta tzatziki sauce
- 1 small cucumber, peeled and grated
- ¾ cup (180 g) plain yogurt
- ½ cup (75 g) crumbled feta cheese
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ⅛ tsp salt
- Pita bread
- Sliced white onion
- Sliced tomatoes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time: 1-2 hours
Combine both ground meats with the mint, garlic, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, salt, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, and lemon zest. Cover the bowl and place into the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
While the meat is in the refrigerator, prepare the tzatziki sauce. Peel and grate the cucumber on the large side of a box grater. Transfer to a piece of cheesecloth or a clean dish towel and wring out any excess liquid. Place into a bowl along with other ingredients for the sauce. Stir a few times to combine. Cover and place into the refrigerator until ready to use.
Preheat the grill for medium-high heat and direct grilling with the lid up. When the grill is ready, oil the grill grates right before putting on the kebabs. Using long-handled tongs, dip some folded paper towels in a high smoke point cooking oil and wipe down the grill grates, making at least three good passes to create a nonstick surface. (It is vital when cooking these kinds of kebabs that they sit flat on the cooking grates and that those grates be completely clean and well oiled)
Form the mixture into 4 cm (1½-inch) meatballs. Thread 3 to 4 meatballs onto each skewer, leaving a small space between each meatball. Place on the hot grill. Do not turn until the lamb has well charred (not burnt) on the downward side. Once the meatballs have turned color all the way around, turn over and continue cooking to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
Remove the kebabs from the grill and serve immediately. Remove the meatballs from the skewers and serve in a warmed pita bread with Feta Tzatziki Sauce, sliced white onion, and sliced tomatoes.
• For a vegetarian or vegan option, use halloumi or kasseri cheese, firm tofu, seitan, or cremini mushrooms instead of the lamb.
Recipe from Kebabs by Derrick Riches (Murdoch Books, hb, $27.99). Read the kebab master's Three Rules of Kebab here.