In keeping with my barbecue loving ways and my longing for sunny climates I decided to bring those Greek flavours into my home as I do at least once a week.
Gyro is probably the most often mispronounced food name. Even its biggest fans sometimes don't get the pronunciation exact. Is it a "jee-rohs," "jai-rohs," "gee-rohs?" The correct Greek pronunciation is “yee-rohs, ” at least in my best explanation. Or is it a Donair?
Almost every culture has its own version of 'fast food', and in Greece I am giving that honour to the gyro sandwich. Have I eaten enough gyros or donairs in my life to become an expert...well not really, but here is what I do know.
Here in Canada a gyro is quite often made with meat cut off of a big cylinder of well-seasoned lamb or beef. This meat is cooked on a slowly rotating vertical spit or gyro, implying the circular spinning motion of a gyroscope. A gyro sandwich consists of various rotisseried meats, all or none of tomatoes, lettuce and onions, along with a yogurt-based tzatziki sauce. These ingredients are placed on a grilled pita bread and served as a wrap sandwich. The type of pita bread may also vary, from the pocket style to a round flatbread. I am salivating already!!!!
A Turkish Doner Kebab or Gyro is slices of marinated lamb, mutton, beef, veal, or chicken which are stacked on a vertical spit and roasted at a vertical grill. It is served as a type of sandwich stuffed into Turkish bread, rolled into flat bread, or laid on top of diced flat bread with a sauce. This type of sandwich has been known, and sold on the streets, by the people of Greece, the Middle East, and Turkey for hundreds of years. In Greece I found they usually add french fries and sometimes mustard inside their gyro as well for a "full meal deal". If you're lucky you can get this type of donair here in Canada too!!! Greek historians believe that the dish originated during Alexander The Great’s time, when his soldiers used their long knives to skewer meat and kept turning the meat over fires.
My version is made with marinated chicken breasts, so we do get all the flavours reminiscent of a true gyro without having to try and replicate the meat. This is something I make often all year round... and talk about fast!!
Before I move on to the recipe I have a few orders of business. I have been the recipient of a couple of awards this week.
The first is the "You're a Sweet" bestowed upon me by my good friend and blogging sister Ivy of Kopiaste. Thank you so much Sis, I think you're the sweetest too with one of the biggest of hearts out there!!!
With the help of Giz of Equal Opportunity Kitchen , the three of us have been working hard to pull together the BloggerAid Cookbook.
The second is from Gloria of Cookbook Cuisine and Foods and Flavors of San Antonio. Her cookbook is coming out this month so check it out. She has been a major influence on the cookbook project as well!!!
I am giving both of these awards to my friends out there...you know who you are...who have supported me and brought a little sunshine into my life each and every day.
So, without further adieu ..on to the recipe because I have to type up a few resumes for friends and get on with my next project.......
**Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce and Feta**
2 T garlic, minced
2 T fresh thyme, minced or 1 T Greek oregano, crushed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T cracked black pepper
zest and juice from one lemon
pinch of salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)
4 large pita bread rounds
1 heart of romaine lettuce, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, halved and sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Place boneless chicken breasts in a shallow glass container. Season with thyme or oregano, pepper, garlic, oil, lemon (juice and zest), salt and olive oil. Distribute the seasonings evenly over the chicken breast by rubbing well. Allow to marinade in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Clean the grill well with a grill brush. Once the grill is clean rub with an oiled paper towel. Heat the grill on high for 5 minutes. Remove chicken from marinade and place on prepared grill. Discard remaining marinade. Cook chicken until juices run clear, about 8 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from heat, and allow to sit about 10 minutes before slicing into thin strips.
Place pita rounds on the grill, and cook for about 2 minutes, until warm, turning frequently to avoid burning. Stuff pita pockets with chicken, toppings and tzatziki to serve.
2 medium size cucumbers
400g strained yogurt
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. wine vinegar
a little salt
fresh chopped fennel fronds or dill
Peel cucumbers and grate each one length-wise with course grater. Salt, allow to drain and press out excess liquid from grated cucumbers. Peel garlic cloves, remove sprout if it exists and crush them. Mix cucumber, garlic, vinegar and salt. Fold the yogurt and the olive oil into the mixture.