There’s this place in the town nearest us that does pretty good business in the Greek Gyro food department. Situated near the college and staffed with at least one lady that has been there since the dawn of day, it is a humble and small-often packed house full of hungry people enjoying gyros, french fries, and cucumber tzatziki sauce.
My husband and his best friend Tom are truly experts in the field of Greek Gyros (actually, they hold this title in most food categories) and they’ve been loyal customers to this little establishment for years and years. Tom, spent many countless days fiddling with the spices for a copycat gyro flavor and tweaking the recipe to mimic the wonderful gyro flavors at the beloved little hole in the wall. Tom, also a foodie, has a brilliant mind and often likes to challenge himself. I am truly grateful for his tenacity and perseverance, especially with this gyro recipe because Tom has so kindly bestowed this recipe on his closest friends and has given me permission to post it here on this corner of the internet for you to enjoy too!
So, this recipe calls for all kinds of wonderful spices that Tom so thoughtfully put together. As long as you have these on hand, the flavor will be just perfect. I can totally attest! From Tom’s test kitchen to yours…..long hard hours were put in here trying to determine just the perfect amount of these spice wonders. So, it’s super easy. Just place all the ingredients in a large bowl, Kitchen Aid stand mixer (with dough hook) or food processor and mix really well to incorporate.
I often double the recipe and get double for the trouble. I figure if I am going to be measuring all the dry spices, it is just as easy to make two batches and freeze loaves for future meals. I am all about easy-healthy dinners sometimes.
This, is one of those meals that freezing is absolutely perfect for. In fact, I think it turns out even better once the spices have a chance to get all in there, freeze within the meat, and then thaw out, redistributing all the juice and flavors in the meat. Plus, if you double it, you only have to clean the processor blades once for several meals. Dishes are not my favorite thing in the world so amen to that!
After I wrap these loaves in plastic wrap, I place a layer of aluminum foil around them and write (with a Sharpie) what the item is and how long to cook it and at what temp. That way, I don’t have any mystery meat in the freezer that I have to guess about 4 months later. Now, for Tom’s Creamy Tzatziki Sauce, you will also be using a plethora of dried spices to make this creamy goodness and believe me, you will want to use it as salad dressing, on hamburgers, as chip dip, etc. etc. It IS THAT GOOD!
It is super easy to make. Just peel your cucumber(s) and grate using a hand-grater. Then, add all your spices and flavoring along with plain yogurt. Tom clued me in on a little secret and I haven’t made it any other way since. Do yourself a texture favor and use the thickest creamy GREEK plain yogurt you can find.
Your tastebuds and your family will thank you! I always make Tom’s Creamy Tzatziki sauce either the morning of the gyro meatloaf meal, or the day before. This is another instance in which I think the flavors all mesh better after they’ve had some time to get to know each other.
One last piece of advice I have for this amazing meal is this…if you notice that your cucumbers contain lots of water, you can squeeze some of it out with cheese cloth after you grate it up. It doesn’t hurt anything except squeezing will take away a little volume from the cucumber so you may want to use two. My reasoning for this is that the cucumber does contain so much water that it can detract from the thickness of your creamy tzatziki sauce and no one wants that!
We use this pita recipe which is phenomenal and can be made a day ahead or even frozen in larger batches and thawed for gyro meatloaf nights. The two pair wonderfully well. If you have on hand, purple onions, olives, feta, romaine, grape tomatoes, a little sprinkle of cayenne…whammo! You have a restaurant quality Greek Gyro pita, salad, taco, or whatever you can think of to enjoy these wonderful well thought out flavors. Thank you Tom! You are the man!
All the best!
- 2 lbs Ground Beef or (Venison/Elk) I use lean grass fed Galloway Beef.
- 3/4 C. Minced Onion
- 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 2 1/2 Tsp. Oregano
- 2 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp. Marjoram
- 1 Tsp. Rosemary
- 1 Tsp. Thyme
- Optional- 2 Tsp. Crushed- Dry Mint
- 1 Large Egg (If using leaner meat like Grass Fed Galloway beef or game, add two eggs.)
- 16 oz. Plain Yogurt (Greek Plain Yogurt gives a thicker/creamier texture)
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced Finely
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tsp. Salt
- 1 Tsp. Dried Basil
- 1 Tsp. Oregano
- 1 Tsp. Thyme
- 1 Tsp. Dill
- 1 Tsp. Black Pepper
- 2 Small or 1 Large Cucumber, Peeled and Grated.
- Sliced Red Onion
- Feta Cheese
- Purpose Olives
- Cherry Tomatoes, halved
- Romaine Lettuce
- Make the Tzatziki ahead of time and refrigerate up to 24 hours prior. To make tzatziki, mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add all of the meatloaf ingredients together and mix thoroughly. This can be accomplished with clean hands, a large spoon, a large stand mixer, or a food processor. I have made this recipe now countless times and it is best for me if I add all the ingredients to a large food processor and allow the meat to really mix together completely with all the ingredients. I have also been successful in mixing all these ingredients in the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with a dough hook.
- Because texture is super important here to ensure the greek gyro meat/mouth feel, I personally think that using a food processor is the easiest way to ensure the meat is ground fine with all the spices dispursed evenly.
- After the meat and all spices and egg(s) are mixed thoroughly, form the meat into two loaves for baking.
- Bake at 350 for 1 hour covered with aluminum foil. For the last 15 minutes, remove the foil.
- You can slice thinly after baking and serve with pita bread and tzatziki or serve as a salad, with purple olives, red onion, feta, and tomato. Note-I have also placed the individual slices on a cookie sheet and broiled for 1-2 minutes to add a sliced gyro feel to the meat which also provides a little crispier texture to the edges.
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