What Is Gyros?
Really what is it? That meat that turns around on a spit and tastes so DIVINE? Well, to begin with, its something that everyone loves around the world. It’s in fact pieces of fatty meat, that are added on a tall vertical rotisserie which turns slowly in front of an electric broiler. The point here is that the meat will cook slowly creating a crispy crust on the outside while soft and juicy on the inside. Once you start slicing off the outer parts of the meat, the meat keeps turning and cooking to create another crispy crust. So if you want a reaaally good Gyros, don’t go to a place that’s way overcrowded. No crispy crusty gyro there (since there is no time to create that crust if you cut it all the time).
The Type Of Meat And The Other Ingredients
As for the type of meat, in Greece, we make Pork Gyros and Chicken Gyros. Lamb Gyros is made in other countries outside Greece. If you want my opinion though Pork meat makes the best Gyros.
The Traditional Wrap
Most of you know Gyros as a Pita Bread wrap. In Greece, Gyros refers to the meat. Pita is the flatbread in which Gyros is wrapped in. So when we want to order a Gyros wrap in Greece, we say a “Pita Gyros”. The “Pita Gyros” consists of other ingredients as well, traditionally it’s Tzatziki dip, fried potato chips, fresh slices of tomato and onion. So when we want to order a traditional “Pita Gyros” (wrap) in Greece we say -A Pita Gyros with everything (Pita Gyro Apo Ola). Which includes all of the above.
And there are of course other stuff you can add to your Gyros wrap. From different meats like souvlaki and kebabs to different types of sauces like spicy cheese dip, or a mustard-mayo sauce (that they usually add to the Chicken Gyros wrap). I’ve seen people add Tzatziki along with mustard, ketchup, and the mayonnaise sauce, which really makes me wanna throw up when I see it. I always have mine with “Apo Ola” the traditional way.
Gyros Recipe Can Be Served As A Portion
There is also another way though, in which we serve Gyros in Greece. And that is, in a form of a meaty pyramid, that sits on top of a Pita Bread that’s cut into triangles. This is served as a portion, along with Tzatziki, tomato and onion slices as a garnish. That we call (Merida Gyros) Portion of Gyros.
The exact meaning of the word Gyros in Greek is “turn”. Because it keeps turning. And if you want to know how its spelled also, then check this song.
So know you know what it is, how to serve it, how to spell it and maybe even how to sing it. Time to see how to make it also…
MAKE THE GYROS
To make a really good homemade Gyros that resembles the one we buy in a shop all you need is:
- A piece of meat that contains a good amount of fat (that’s why we use pancetta here). Store bought gyros is made of a large piece of pork (usually from the porks neck) that has plenty of fat in order to keep the meat juicy and soft.
- Let it soak for hours in the marinade. If you ever wondered why Gyros is so tasty than that’s the reason.
Once you have marinaded Gyros and cooked it, cut it (the pancetta pieces) in half and then to long stripes (lengthwise). Add it back to the pan to soak any remaining juices until you are ready to wrap the Pita Gyros.
Not a fan of Pork Gyros? Check out my Chicken Gyros Recipe for a lighter version!
MAKE THE TZATZIKI
Traditionally, Tzatziki is made at least one day before consuming it. In order for the garlic to cool down, and to boost the flavor of the Tzatziki in overall. In a Grill house or Greek Taverna, they usually have tons of Tzatziki prepared for the whole week-since it lasts long and doesn’t spoil (due to the garlic preserving it). The tzatziki in this recipe is one that is quick to make and can be used instantly. Since we only need to make a small amount to use only for the Pita Gyros. Its difference with the Traditional Tzatziki is, that in this one you just mix everything together all at once. If you want to follow the Traditional recipe for making Tzatziki though and get some leftovers out of it, then here it is.
MAKE THE PITA BREAD
And I don’t mean make it from scratch (although you can, if you really feel like cooking). All you need is some store-bought Pita Bread (refrigerated or frozen) and a non-stick pan along with a splash of olive oil. You cook the Pita Bread for 1-2 minutes on each side and your Pita Bread is ready to Rock… Sorry that was to Roll! Or to Rock and Roll. (been watching too many episodes of friends… and Chandler lately)
NOTE: Do not overcook the Pita Bread. It needs to be soft in order to roll easily.
HAVE EVERYTHING PREPARED
Another thing you definitely must do is, to have all the ingredients for the Pita Gyros prepared and ready to use. Imagine running to fetch the onions or the potatoes while you are holding the Pita on the parchment paper? So make sure you don’t forget anything before you start wrapping it together (otherwise, this will be the swearing part of the Pita making process).
WRAP EVERYTHING TOGETHER
Pita Gyros is traditionally wrapped in parchment paper (and here comes the tricky part of the Gyros Making). The difficulty with wrapping it with parchment paper is, that in order to hold it together, you have to press it tightly. You also have to know how to tuck in the parchment paper, at the bottom of the Pita Wrap. This is something that doesn’t happen at once, it’s something you have to do a few times in order to understand how it’s done. It’s like rolling a cigarette, it takes some practice to take it in (so here is your excuse to make more ;)) Do not worry though, as I have a solution for you. If you find the parchment paper difficult, then try some aluminum foil on top of the parchment paper or on its own. It will keep everything wrapped nice and tight. So if you are a more adventurous type, and you are ready to Rock and Roll, then here is the step by step way to do it (traditionally) with the parchment paper. If you are not, then just Roll…(using the aluminum foil)
HERE’S HOW TO WRAP A PITA GYROS IN 10 STEPS
- Take a piece of parchment paper and lay the Pita Bread on top, right on the edge of the parchment paper.
- Spread a spoonful of Tzatziki all over the Pita Bread.
Pita Gyros Making Step 3 & 4
- Add a few pieces of Gyros right at the center.
- Add some potato chips, 2 slices of tomato, and a bit of onion. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley.
- Close the Pita Bread by squeezing everything together. Press more tightly at the bottom to give a slight cone shape.
- Fold the corner of the parchment paper tightly in order to cover the Pita Gyros.
- Wrap the parchment paper all around the Pita Gyros (tightly) until you get to the corner of the paper.
- Pull the corner of the paper outwards, away from the Pita Gyros in order to “compress” it. Then wrap the corner as well and hold it there.
- Fold the excessive parchment paper at the bottom of the Pita Gyros into a stripe.
- Fold the stripe inwards, towards the bottom of the Pita Gyros. Once you get to the bottom of the Pita Gyros tuck it in tightly.
Greek Gyros Recipe Easy Step By Step Tutorial
For The Gyros:
- 500 grams Pork Pancetta
- 1 small onion cut in 4
- 1/2 green bell pepper cut in 4
- 3 large garlic cloves chopped
- 80 ml red wine vinegar
- 250 ml water
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- the juice out of half a lemon
For The Tzatziki Dip:
- 250 grams full fat Greek yogurt
- 100 grams cucumber
- 1 large garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt & pepper
For The Gyros Wraps:
- 4 Pita flatbreads
- 1 medium-sized potato peeled and cut into chips
- 8 large slices of tomato
- 1/2 small onion sliced
- fresh parsley chopped
- sweet paprika powder
- salt & pepper
- 4 parchment paper sheets 20x32 cm or 8x12 inch
- frying oil
- olive oil
Making The Marinade 1 Day Before:
- Add all the Gyros ingredients except of the Pancetta in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat.
- Add the pieces of Pancetta into a food container . Pour the hot marinade over the Pancetta. Once it reaches room temperature, refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.
Cooking The Gyros:
- Preheat oven to 250°C / 482°F.
- In a medium-sized baking pan, add the Pancetta along with the marinade.
- Cook for about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let the Pancetta cook for most of the time on one side. Then turn it and finish off by cooking it on the other side. (This way you give a nice golden brown crust on one side, while the other stays more juicy and soft, just like a Gyros that has been cooked on the rotisserie).
- Let the Pancetta cool for a few minutes before cutting. Then cut the pieces first in half and then to long strips.
- Transfer back to the pan to keep it warm until you are ready to roll your Gyros wrap.
Making The Tzatziki:
- In a small bowl add the yogurt. In same bowl, grate the cucumber using a hand grater (not too thick not too thin).
- Add the rest of the Tzatziki ingredients and mix well.
Cooking The Pita Bread:
- Add a splash of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Cook each Pita Bread for about 2 minutes on each side. NOTE: Do not cook the Pita too crispy as it won't wrap easily later on.
Cooking The Potato Chips:
- Fry the potato chips in hot frying oil until golden and crispy. Set aside on paper towel.
Making The Wraps:
- Take one piece of parchment paper on your palm.
- Add a Pita Bread on top. Place it right at corner of the paper.
- Spread a spoonfull of Tzatziki all over the Pita Bread.
- Add some pieces of Gyros, a few potato chips, 2 slices of tomato, a few onions, sprinkle some chopped parsley on top. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.
- Squeeze everything to come together and close the wrap.
- Push the wrap more tightly at the bottom to create a cone like shape.
- Roll the parchment paper all around the wrap .
- Fold the excess parchment paper at the bottom of the wrap into a strip.
- Fold the strip upwards towards the bottom of the wrap. Tuck in tightly at the bottom.
- If you wrap isn't tight enough, add a piece of aluminum foil to hold it together.
These Ingredients add a nice boost of flavor to the Gyros Recipe:
- Idyll Organic Sweet Vinegar from Greece
- Zane Hellas Organic Culinary Greek Wild Dried Oregano Herb Leaves 1.40 oz. - 40 gr.
- McCormick Paprika