A shawarma, a doner kebab or gyros – all cut from the same vertical spit? Not at all! While one will find the concept of meat stacked on a skewer and grilled on a vertical rotisserie in many variations, the intricate blend of spices, herbs and condiments and the kind of meat or poultry used make each dish stand its own ground.
Gyros literally means to “turn” and describes the process the meat on the skewer rotates on the vertical spit to make sure the meat is always cooks evenly. The pace of roasting can be adjusted by varying the strength of the heat and the distance between the heat and the meat, allowing the cook to adjust to varying rates of consumption. Traditionally tender and lean pork meat is used and a few strips of fat are added in between to keep the meat moist and crisp. The outside of the meat is sliced vertically in thin, crisp shavings when done and is generally served in a lightly grilled piece of pita, rolled up with various salads and sauces.
Pita gyros is most commonly served in Greece, and usually includes fruity fresh tomatoes, garlicky tzatziki sauce and fresh onions. There are versions with fried potatoes, mustard, ketchup and feta cheese with a hot pepper dip or some are served with mixture of diced pickles or diced bacon.
While researching I found that the idea of gyros is so popular that many countries have a version of their own, even in the US it has reached extreme popularity. The American-Greek gyros where ground compressed meat – usually lamb or beef or a combination of both was brought across the ocean by Greek-Cypriots. The meat is then wrapped around the skewer and grilled on the vertical spit. It has been subject to some serious research in The Lab.
Considering that not many households have a vertical rotisserie (or a lab) available to them it was not long that an easier variation was created. It wasn’t until I arrived it Germany that I discovered this variation of gyros. Made simply in a hot pan or skillet with lots of onions and the spices this is an extremely popular dish in many German households, where Greek cuisine is extremely popular.
Called “Pfannen Gyros” – or skillet gyros this version makes a great easy alternative to make at home. In my version I add a few more spices and herbs often found in the traditional gyros and as I like to have the freshness of produce I tend to add vegetables and legumes to my gyros, making it a perfect full meal. While pita bread is a great option I like playing around with different ways to serve my skillet gyros – here I decided to do what I love – fusion! Using a few light corn tortillas instead of the heavier pitas my pork and vegetable gyros include lashings of a garlic tzatziki and crisp fresh romaine lettuce to round it off. A great weeknight meal the family will love.
Recipe: Gyros Style TacosMeeta K. Wolff
Total Time: + overnight marination
- For the Gyros tacos
- 600g pork, from the neck or shoulder, cut into strips
- 4 onions, sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Oregano, dried, to taste
- Marjoram, dried, to taste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2-3 teaspoons paprika powder
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 soft corn tortillas
- 150g kidney beans (can)
- 150g sweet corn (can or frozen)
- 150g French beans
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4-5 baby corn, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small romaine lettuce, shredded
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 4-6 soft corn tortillas
For the Tzatziki
- 300g thick Greek yogurt
- 1 small cucumber, seeds removed and finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To make the gyros, pat the pork strips dry. In a large Ziploc bag place the meat along with the oil, and all the herbs and spices - except salt and pepper. Seal the bag and give the whole thing a good mix then allow to marinate in the fridge overnight.
- In a hot skillet on high heat, fry the pork and the marinade on all sides for a good 3-4 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium. Add the kidney beans, corn, French beans, baby corn and bell pepper. Cook through for a further 8-10 minutes. Season according to taste.
- For the tzatziki place the cucumber in a bowl, sprinkling some salt. Let this sit for a few minutes, then squeeze out all the liquid. Whisk the yogurt, then add the cucumber, garlic, olive oil and the zest and juice of the lemon. Mix well and season to taste.
- Assemble the tacos: Warm the tacos either in the oven or microwave according to packet instructions. Place all the ingredients (romaine lettuce, tzatziki, gyros, parsley etc. on a table and assemble the tacos.
Notes: You can use a variety of vegetables in the gyros. I have used zucchini, aubergine and also pumpkin. Instead of romaine lettuce you can also use spinach leaves. Set out crumbled feta cheese on the table to add as a topping.
This is one of those uber meals that leaves everyone at the dinner table totally satisfied to the core. Aromatic, piquant and downright tasty they will please everyone palate and an innovative idea for Cinco de Mayo. Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you - they are all readily available in well sorted stores. Easy to adjust to your preference, you can play around with ingredients and spices to your liking.
My bags are packed, my presentations are ready to go and my camera equipment cleaned - off to Vienna tomorrow for my first workshop this year. I can hardly wait, slightly nervous but mostly excited to meet new people, share new ideas and passion. Not to mention enjoying a few great days doing what I love. Look forward to pictures and stories when I return.
If you liked my Mexican-Greek inspiration you will love these:
Jeanne’s Chipotle, lime & tequila chicken fajita recipe
Peter’s Mushroom, Chorizo and Haloumi "Tacos"
Denise’s Slow Cooker Harissa Lamb Tacos with Pomegranate Salsa
Miss Marzipan’s Veggie Quesadillas
Kay’s Greek-style wrap
You might like these Greek & Mexican ideas from What’s for lunch, Honey?:
|Greek Stuffed Tomatoes|
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