19 February 2009

Chicken Gyros

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.

**Tzatziki Sauce**

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. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Sounds wonderful. I just wish I had $20 for every time I've heard someone in Utah mispronounce gyros!

  2. Gyros is a tricky word. :) It would be easy to chomp on this though. Love the tzatziki sauce.

  3. Delicious, Val! I think the one that kills me the most is JI-RO. lol.

  4. Oh Val, you are tempting me very early today, I haven't even had my first cup of coffee yet!!!!

  5. Just how we love out chicken Val, totally yummy! Like the sauce too, especially the wine vinegar whcih is new to me! Congrats on the awards...of course you are a sweetheart!!!

  6. Looks very tasty, Val. I agree with you completely about the nastiness of mustard in gyros. You know, I've never seen that giant cylinder of meat in Greece, only in the US and Canada. What I've seen in Greece is only the stacks of meat on a vertical spit. Just like at the Greek butcher shop, the meat is ground in front of you, not pre-ground as in North America.

  7. Very informative post about gyros! Your version looks really good. I'll have to try it since I can't exactly manage the meat-on-a-vertical-spit business.

  8. Bravo Val! A great post about this very popular and tasty street snack...and a great lesson in pronunciation too!

  9. Oh, I love Gyros! Yours looks fantastic!

    Cheers and have a nice weekend,


  10. great post on the name - yiro is one of my favorite ways to eat leftover meat

  11. Oooh I could one of those right now for breakfast (8am here) they look so good!

  12. I love gyros, never made at home from scratch, here we get from the buchers and you just have to fry them, now i know a recipe i can try at home and it will be far more cheaper then buying from the shops.

  13. Just what I had for lunch yesterday...only it wasn't made with your loving hands. In fact, I don't know whose hands it was made with...eeew.

  14. Thanks for the pronunciation lesson - I always wondered how to pronounce that. I thought it might be heeros and maybe that was where the hero sandwich came from.
    Yeeros makes more sense.
    Looks so amazingly flavourful. Delish!

  15. We make gyros the sane way here in Chicago as you guys have them in Canada! It's the only way I've ever known...
    I also love to substitute actual grilled chicken for the meat; it's a healthier taste b/c it's usually less greasy than a traditional gyros!
    I basically love anything that comes on a pita and is topped with tzatziki though!

  16. Barbecue seaon cannot come soon enough. I am going weary of of the blustery, cold weather.

    Gyros are delicious - lamb, beef, chicken - anyway you fix them.

  17. Val, it's the am here and I'm hankering for gyro..gee thanks!

    I might have to fix that later this evening.

  18. I love pitta stuffed with grilled meats and that amazing Greek sauce, beautiful! Making me very hungry.


  19. I say "yee-roh". Nice post, thanks for the recipes. This is one of my favorite Greek dishes.

  20. I never day it right. I'm so bad.

    There is a middle eastern takeout place in the neighborhood of my office that has those rotating vertical spits of lamb and chicken. It's the most mouthwatering thing ever! I could go in there every day and order some.

    Your gyros look great, even if I do say them wrong and they're not roasted on big vertical spits. I love tzatziki!

  21. i appreciate any and every method for getting tzatziki into my body, but this is probably my favorite. deliciously done. :)

  22. My husband has never had gyros before, and I think this version is a perfect way to get him hooked. YUM!

  23. I love tzatziki sauce!! I make veggie gyros, but my hubby LOVES the chicken ones:)

  24. I'm always afraid I am mispronouncing it! haha..Well, it tastes good..that's what matters, eh?

  25. Mmm, this is a nice reminder of summer to come, Val! I'll be back here when it's time to warm up the BBQ. It's rather buried under snow, now.

  26. I'd never heard of a Doner kebab until I came to the UK - but in Johannesburg you got killer schawarmas which are basically the middle-Eastern version. Makes me homesick just to think about that well-spiced meat, the creamy garlicky sauce and the crunchy salad... Yum!

  27. This looks sooo good and so much better than what we had for dinner tonight. Yum!

  28. When I worked at Columbia's Medical Center, there was a food cart that made these and I haven't had one since. Your recipe looks so great that I am DEFINITELY going to try to recreate it.

  29. I would gladly eat your gyros and chicken gyros is usual in Greece and I always prefer it. You will never find lamb gyros and rarely beef gyros may be found. Gyros is mainly made with pork, served with tzatziki, onions, tomato slices. Potatoes are optional and instead of tzatziki mustard yoghurt sauce is also very popular.

  30. Your recipes are so full of sun!

  31. oh my gosh this looks so wonderful! i will be making this very very soon!

  32. That got me running to make some pita and make this aspap! Yummmmm..It also got me thinking about my brief stint at working in Greece and all the wonderful times there. Hummmm summer dreaming.

  33. I love gyros - these looks so delicious! Yum!

  34. Okay, I am going to admit it - even though I know I pronounce it wrong, I feel like a bigger idiot when I try to pronounce it right. I don't know why....

  35. I haven't had one in so long...it looks amazing Val.

  36. Hi Valli! I am looking forward to catching up on the posts I've missed over the past week or so...I got SO behind. But it gives me several posts to look forward to now, and yummy recipes! I've never tried to make gyros, but I love them, and I love the sound of the chicken ones...and that SAUCE! That has to be the KEY factor! Thanks so much for these recipes...I'll let you know when I make them, because reading your post has made me start craving them. :-)

  37. Hmmmmm, I love gyros! They remind me my vacation in Greece!!

  38. I make special trips to Greektown to my favourite place for a gyro. Had I known you had this talent to reproduce it allmost identically, I would have put in my order a while ago.
    Congrats on the awards. You're a cool dude(tte)

  39. I always cringe a little when I hear someone call them "jai-rohs". They're a favorite of mine. Your chicken version certainly would be easier for me to reproduce as I don't have a one of those huge spits at home. ;) It looks really delicious, Val!

  40. Yay! I'm pronouncing it correctly! I've always wanted to do a version of these at home. Greek take-out is usually on the top of my take-out choices. Looks delicious!

  41. Val love the sauce....I kind of just had lunch and I'm getting hungry looking at the Gyros!!!!!

  42. I really do miss the gyros in Greece on the islands full of hot chips, they were the most addictive thing.

    The actually made me start eating pork again, they were so nice.


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