I love Mediterranean cuisine—the fresh flavors of the food, the geography, and the climate inspire my imagination. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Greek restaurant in my town that I can frequent to get my fix! So how do I get a tasty gyro? I’m not apt to wait for an annual street fair, so I take matters into my own hands and make the Home Brew Chef version of the best Greek street food I can. This is my version of Homemade Gyro Meat, which can be added to a Homemade Pita Beer Bread, stuffed with a Greek Salad and topped with aYogurt Sauce, to make The Ultimate Gyro Sandwich!
It’s a given that I am a food geek and an equipment nerd. This might explain why I’ve always wanted one of those cool spit cookers | rotisseries | Vertical Broiler | Roaster that spin meat on a stick. The ones you see in the Greek food trucks with layer after layer of lamb meat slowing spinning vertically near a red hot infrared heat source. However, much to my sadness, it has been difficult for me to justify (and convince my wife) that I need to own this piece of restaurant-grade equipment. With that being said, I set out to make great gyro meat, which has the texture, flavor, and essence you would find in the best Greek cuisine restaurants, State Fair booths, or food trucks!
I did lots of research, looking at recipes from Alton Brown to Serious Eats and experimenting on my own to re-create this meat and achieve the best flavor and texture possible. The recipe below uses a few key flavor ideas and culinary techniques that make this version the best I’ve ever had. In addition to the grinding, mixing, and puréeing steps, the use of salt denatures the meat proteins, creating texture and bite in the finished meat. I borrow from the Turkish kitchen how köfte (Turkish Lamb Köfte with Stout | Chicken & Turkey Köfte with IPA) are made. Please read this recipe below, detailing a step by step, how to make the best Homemade Gyro Meat you’ve ever tried.
Serves: 8 guests
More Meditereanean Recipes:
Chicken & Turkey Köfte with IPA
Greek Salad Recipe
Greek Yogurt Sauce for Gyro
Homemade Gyro Meat
Homemade Pita Beer Bread
Mediterranean Stuffed Leg of Lamb
Mediterranean Style Yogurt Sauce for Lamb
Middle Eastern Falafel
The Ultimate Gyro Sandwich
Toasted Israeli Cous Cous Salad with Spring Vegetables and IPA Dressing
In a measuring cup, add the breadcrumbs and top off with your beer of choice. Let the crumbs sit for 30 minutes to fully absorb the beer.
Remember that the overall flavor profile will change based on the beer being used in this recipe. Choosing an IPA will add a touch of bitterness while accentuating the herb mix in the finished product. Adding a Brown Ale will increase the melanoidin malt complexity, giving more roast | meatiness to the final product. A Stout will increase the roast | coffee complexity, giving the lamb flavor more depth.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the onion, garlic (raw and roasted), lemon zest (if using), oregano, parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Pulse the machine several times to break up the ingredients and cut them into finer pieces. Then turn the food processor on full for 30 seconds or until the mixture is almost smooth, but still has a little grit left to it.
In a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, add the salt, fennel, black pepper, and chili pepper (if using). Pulse this mixture to create a fine spice powder. Add this spice mix to the food processor and pulse to combine. Then transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Reserve the food processor bowl for another use.
Next, add the ground lamb, goat, and pork to the electric mixer’s bowl. Once the meats are combined, add the beer-soaked breadcrumbs. Fit the mixer with a paddle attachment and turn on to its lowest speed. Let the meat mix combine with all the other ingredients for about a minute, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for another 3 minutes. This will fully incorporate the salt and start to break down the protein fibers. The meat will first look like hamburger meat, then start to become more paste-like and tacky.
Try to find the best quality meat. Because lamb and goat are not overly fatty, the pork adds some fat and extra richness to the finished product. If you do not like lamb or cannot find goat meat, beef can be substituted; an 80|20 blend of meat to fat ratio is ideal.
Turn off the mixer and remove half of the meat mixture and place it back into the food processor bowl. Purée the meat in the food processor for 1 minute, scraping down the sides once or twice if needed. The idea is to end up with part paste, part courser meat so that the final product has more texture and bite.
Add the meat paste back into the mixer and combine for another minute on medium speed.
Transfer the finished mixture to an airtight bag or seal-able container, removing any air pockets as you pack the meat. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to preferably overnight. This not only marinates the meat and lets the flavors infuse together, but allows the salt to do its magic and cure the meat slightly.
Oven Gyro Meat Directions:
Preheat the oven to 275°F | 135°C - 300°F | 149°C. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and divide it into two equal portions. Form the meat mixture into a long rectangular shape, about 4 inches wide and 2 inches high. The rectangle can be as long as needed. Square off the edges as much as possible. Repeat with the remaining portion of meat. Rub each meat slab with 1 tablespoon of roasted garlic oil and a light seasoning of salt, coating it evenly.
Place into the center of the oven and slowly bake the meat until its internal temperature reaches 155°F | 68°C, about 45 minutes. This slow roasting method will just cook it through while helping the meat retain its moisture. Remove the meat and let it rest for 30 minutes, to cool and re-absorb its juices.
Once at room temperature, wrap the meat in plastic and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 3 days before serving. I know, this seems crazy and takes extra thought, but the results are well worth it. The Gyro Meat can also be frozen for 6 months, for a meal at a later point...
Sous Vide Cooking Directions:
Place the raw meat mixture into a vacuum seal bag and remove as much air as possible. Once sealed, shape the meat into an oval loaf shape.
Preheat your water bath | Sous Vide to 150°F | 66°C. Add the sealed gyro meat and cook for 1 hour, to fully cook the meat, creating a perfectly cooked loaf. Remove from the water bath and chill in an ice bath for 20 minutes, then refrigerate (7 days) or freeze (6 months) until ready to reheat.
To Reheat The Gyro Meat Directions:
When ready to make a gyro sandwich, or another dish with the cooked gyro meat, remove the meat from the plastic and slice it into quarter-inch thick pieces. Now it’s time to think about how you want to brown the meat. Noting that the meat is already cooked, the idea is to add a quick char and caramelize the edges.
Oven | Broiler Reheating Directions:
Preheat your oven’s broiler to high. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil and arrange the meat slices to maximize the amount of meat per tray. Place under the broiler for 2 – 4 minutes, making sure to evenly brown the meat as it re-warms. You might need to move the tray to get even browning, depending on the size of your broiler.
Grill Reheating Directions:
Set up your grill with hot coals or your gas grill on high and preheat for 30 minutes. Clean the grill and lightly coat the grate with oil to prevent sticking. Using tongs, arrange the meat slices on the grill and cook for 2 – 4 minutes on each side to re-warm and lightly brown the meat.
Wood Fired Oven Reheating Directions:
Arrange the meat in a disposable aluminum pan, place it into a pre-heated wood-fired oven (about 600 - 800°F | 315 - 426°C) and cook for 4 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.
Stove Top reheating Directions:
Place the meat in a hot sauté or cast iron pan and quickly brown it in a touch of oil, cooking on each side for 1 – 2 minutes.