I would say that gyros (pronounced yee-ros) are Greece’s number one fast food item, with pizza, crepes, and club sandwiches following. These quick, satisfying, and very reasonably priced pita wraps are quite tasty too, especially when you find a busy store that makes them fresh. A typical gyro can be made with pork, chicken, or even lamb that is slowly cooked by rotating in circles (“γύρω“ in Greek means to go around, hence the name!). The meat is cooked until crispy and then is shaved off and loaded into a pita with your choice of toppings. A Thessaloniki gyro is filled with meat, fries, onion, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard, and a common addition is tzatziki, spicy cheese, or a paprika sauce for a more intense flavor. If you do not like the crispy meat, a very common alternative is to order a souvlaki gyro. Souvlaki is pork or chicken that is skewered and grilled on an open charcoal fire. Both options are really great for an occasional on-the-go meal, but I want to share a much healthier homemade lamb gyro recipe.
I don’t have an exact recipe to follow, but I have more of a step-by-step instruction to create a delicious gyro sandwich at home. We only had a few pieces of lamb (probably a handful, enough for 2 gyros) that I marinaded in a little beer and a couple of garlic cloves for a couple hours, this is optional. I cut the pieces into the size of a half dollar or quarter, and grilled them in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and Greek oregano until cooked but still tender and juicy. I then very finely chopped the lamb into much smaller pieces and returned to the pan and continued to cook until the edges became crispy. The meat process was as simple as that, no hassle yet quite delicious. The same process can be done with pork or chicken as well, and if you have a grill at home, I imagine that first grilling the meat outside would only enhance the flavor.
As far as the rest of the ingredients go, I made the fries in the oven, you can find the fries recipe here, and the tzatziki recipe here. Other ingredients include chopped onions (preferably purple), chopped tomatoes, and mustard and ketchup, if you want to try it the Salonica way. I also added lettuce because I love it and it adds a little extra fiber. For now, the pita recipe is soon to follow, and I must say that, the homemade wheat pitas turned out truly amazing!!! Definitely a recipe you will want to come back for. I would describe them as soft, slightly chewy, with a wonderful wheat almost nuttyflavor — perfect compliment in a gyro or any other kind of wrap. Perhaps, even a great alternative to a tortilla.
Below is a close up picture of an open faced gyro sandwich and a wrapped one. The only thing I was missing was tomato, unfortunately we didn’t have any at the moment – I figured the ketchup made up for it anyway, right?! The combination of lamb and tzatziki was truly amazing, I only made two for my husband and I to split, but I would have totally eaten another if there were more, V enthusiastically agreed. I think next time I plan to make with chicken or even just vegetarian with extra potatoes sounds nice too. Mmmm… potatoes and tzatziki…
With the combination of homemade wheat pitas + skillet cooked meat + oven baked potatoes + veggies + tzatziki = you really can’t go wrong with this much healthier alternative to a typically unhealthy yet adored Greek favorite. Besides, you will want to use all those saved calories on eating another one and drinking an ice cold beer along with it, perfect combo trust me.
Let me know how your gyros turn out next time you want to experience a little Greece from the comfort of your own kitchen!