When I think of Chicago food, I don’t think of deep dish pizza and I don’t think of dragged through the garden hot dogs. When I think of Chicago food, I think of two things: Italian Beef and Gyros. Gyros are pitas filled with that wonderful meat carved off a vertical rotisserie exposed to the open air. It’s magical and disgusting, all at the same time, and it’s one of my favorite foods. After watching a Good Eats episode on making this wonderloaf, I decided to give it a try.
Gyros and Tsaziki Sauce Recipe:
1. Onions: take a half of an onion and dice it small. Stick it in your food processor. Then, dump that out onto a kitchen towel and wring out the extra liquid. This is the kind of thing that completely deters me from tying a recipe. But I love gyros, so I was willing to try it. I squeezed the liquid out of the onions. It was cold and milky, and it made my eyes burn like something fierce. Next time I do this, I will insist that it be done in a place where there is an eyewash station. Because, my god, it felt like a chemical burn.
2. Grind the spices: the recipe called for ground rosemary. This, too, is annoying step. Ground rosemary? Sigh. I got my mortar and pestle out and started grinding. I threw in a couple of peppercorns as well. This part was nice. To get the peppercorns cracked, I would pound down directly on them with a light tap. If you listened very closely, it made a nice popping sound, like stepping on christmas ornaments.
3. Paste the meat: Throw the spices and the wrung out onions into your food processor with a pound of ground lamb. My food processor happens to be comically small, so I had to do it in two batches. I probably should have done it in three. You are supposed to blitz the meat mixture for about minute. It makes the meat look like dog food, and it reminded me of the time I ate corned beef hash out of a can.
4. Loaf the meat: If you aren’t going to rotisserie cook this, dump the meat out into a loaf pan. Mush it down. You don’t need to grease it or anything beforehand. Put the loaf pan in a hot water bath and cook at 325 for an hour.
5. Start the tsaziki: I bought some greek yogurt. It is a 35 point something oz container. For some reason, even though the label was in English and obviously intended for a North American consumer, the container comes in metric! I almost didn’t buy it because I needed 16 oz but have no idea how much a kilogram of yogurt is. But it was a good price for Greek yogurt.
To the pound of yogurt, add peel a cucumber, remove the seeds, and finely dice it. Then, wring it out and add it to the yogurt. It is an annoying step. Then, add 1T olive oil, 2T red wine vinegar, and 4 finely minced cloves of garlic. Mix it up and put it in the fridge.
5. Smush the meat: After the hour in the oven, drain off the fat (there was a boatload) from the lamb. Then, Alton Brown wants you to take a foil covered brick and set it on top of the meatloaf while it rests. This is completely ridiculous. (1) Who the hell has a foil covered brick? (2) Why the hell am I doing this? There was no explanation or rationale given in the episode. And I’ve watched it twice.
Nevertheless, even though I had no idea why I was doing it, I did my best to follow the instructions. But instead, I put some foil on top of the meat, and then put another loaf pan on top. Then, to mimick the weight of a brick, I set three of my favorite sauces in this little loaf boat.
In the TV episode, Alton Brown doesn’t tell you for how long to leave the brick on your meat. But, in the written recipe, he says to do it until the internal temp reaches 175. After having done this, I still have no idea why it was necessary. When I took the weight off, it looked exactly the same as it did before. I flipped the loaf over onto a serving dish and began slicing.
It reminded me a lot of the slicing I did for the canned ham I made earlier in the week. Except this smelled good, although the color did leave something to be desired.
We constructed our gyros with some homemade pitas, a ton of tsaziki, the gyro meat, some tomatoes, and some red onions. I was slightly disappointed because it didn’t look or taste quite like the the gyro meat that comes carved off of the rotisserie thing. It was missing something – probably msg. My wife liked it though. She said it tasted like a healthy version of the gyro. It’s something that I will probably make again, but this recipe will need some tinkering. I really want to mimic that Kronos flavor.