For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, there is a wonderful source of great quality grass-fed organic meats, Thundering Hooves farm in Walla Walla, WA. You can order from them directly, but I have access to their meats via my organic grocery delivery service, SPUD. Fantastic meats!
We try not to eat too much red meat at our house, as J isn't getting any younger and I am trying to lose 20 lbs (yeah right!) But I've been craving some meat, and lamb is really one of my favorite red meats. So, last week I ordered some ground lamb from the farm.
Next question: What would I make with this lamb? Gyros! The seed for something Greek got firmly planted in my brain when I caught the smell of gyros from a little Greek deli while driving back home from a meeting.. Gyros it would be. My all-time favorite food-science geek, Alton Brown actually has a recipe to mimic the pressed rotisserie gyro meat that you find in Gyro places. I sure will give this a try one of these days, but it was Friday evening, and I didn't feel like taking anything too challenging on.
I remembered seeing a Gyro recipe in Cooks Illustrated, that used Lamb patties, so I went to work on it. I decided to add some Tabbouli as a side, but in retrospect that was way too much food. Oh well! Life could be a lot worse. Now we have some Tabbouli in the fridge, and in my opinion it tastes much better the next day anyway. The bulgur grains have a chance to absorb the yummy lemon-olive oil flavors....yumm.
(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated, July 2007)
1 lb ground lamb
4 pocketless pitas
3/4 pita torn into 1inch pieces
1/2 onion, chopped coarse (~ 3/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fresh greek oregano leaves, minced
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp canola oil
1. Preheat oven to 350F. To heat the pita, wrap tightly in foil and place in oven for 10 - 15 minutes.
2. Process onion, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, lemon juice and pita pieces in food processor into a paste, about 30 sec. Transfer onion mixture to a large glass bowl. Add lamb and mix gently till lamb and onion paste is well incorporated. Divide mixture into 12 equal pieces and roll gently into balls. Flatten balls gently into patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
3. Heat 1 tsp canola oil in a 12-inch skillet, preferably non-stick. Add half the patties and cook over med-high 3-4 minutes, or until a nice brown crust forms. Flip patties, reduce heat to medium, and cook about 5 minutes on other side, until well browned and cooked through. Transfer patties to paper-towel lined plate. Wipe the skillet clean, add 1 tsp oil and cook the rest of the patties. Drain on paper towels. Keep patties warm in a 250F oven.
Note: I would use a splatter screen so you don't get lamb grease all over your stove. Sorry for the hazy picture -- I didn't want to get too close and have oil splatter on my camera lens.
1 cup greek yogurt (I use Fage brand)
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 tsp dill (I used dried as that is what I had on hand)
1 small garlic clove, minced fine
1/4 tsp salt
Juice from 2 lemons
1 tsp lemon zest
1. Combine cucumber and salt, and let drain in a colander set over a bowl for 15-30 minutes.
2. Add drained cucumber, garlic and lemon juice to food processor and pulse a few times till cucumber till you get a chunky paste. Don't over-process.
3. Mix cucumber mixture with yogurt. Add mint, dill, and lemon zest. Season will more salt and pepper if needed. Keep chilled.
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups romaine hearts, shredded or julienned
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4 scallions, chopped fine
Juice from 4 large lemons
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1. Add bulgur to boiling water in a large glass bowl. Stir well, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside 20 - 30 minutes till bulgur grains are al-dente and plumped up.
2. Drain bulgur in a mesh sieve so all extra water drains.
3. Mix bulgur with parsley, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, scallions, lemon zest.
4. Check seasonings. Set aside at room temperature till ready to eat.
Note: You can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup diced red onion if you like. I didn't as the kids don't eat raw onion, and also, I didn't want more dragon breath on movie night :-)
To assemble gyros:
Lay out warm pita on a square of aluminum foil. Spread 1/4 cup tzatziki sauce in the middle lengthwise. Arrange 3 patties on the sauce. Top with tomato, lettuce, cheese and a few more tablespoons of sauce. Fold pita. Wrap foil over like a blanket and serve.