When I studied abroad in London about a year ago, one of our favorite nighttime activities (aside from all the wonderful legal drinking) was getting kebab. You can find authentic Turkish kebab shops everywhere in Europe; the best being, in my opinion, in Paris. But they were all so delicious because each country had their own unique take on something that has existed for centuries. Whether they added more sauces, certain unique veggies, or just a homemade pita bread, it's one of the foods I miss the most from my adventures abroad. The American-Greek equivalent is gyros. Authentically, the pieces of lamb are shredded from a gigantic rotisserie typically spinning in the window. Its sliced off into a pita full of lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The crown jewel is the tzatziki sauce. THIS was the true test. I wanted to know how to make such a glorious topping, and I think I succeeded here. Because I don't have access to such a giant rotisserie, I simplified the recipe to be more accessible for standard kitchens. Because who has that ish laying around?
Lamb Kebab Gyros
1 pound of lamb chunks
3 Tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves crushed garlic
The juice from half a lemon
1 Tbs peppercorns
1/2 Tbs dried rosemary
1/2 Tbs dried thyme
1 bag of chopped romaine
1 cube feta cheese
Half a red onion
Pitted black olives (optional)
1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
3 cloves of garlic
3-4 sprigs of dill
1 onion slice
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1 Tbs olive oil
The juice from half a lemon
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste
The most important part of this whole thing is the fact that you have to marinate the lamb for a whole day. Prepare in advance! It's easy enough. Whisk together the soy sauce, balsamic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add the seasonings. For the garlic, pound each clove using the flat surface of your knife. Crush it enough so that it's cracked open and juicy, but keep the clove in one piece. Throw the lamb chunks into the marinade and massage it gently. The claw came back here.
Get a really nice friend to open up a couple plastic baggies for you so you can put the marinating lamb in there because your hands will be super gross. Make sure to seal up the bags very tightly to avoid spillage. Stick your bags of meat into the fridge and leave them there overnight. If you're in a rush, 4-6 hours should do it too.
You can also make the tzatziki the day before too! That will last about 5 days in your fridge. Grab your mini food processor and let's make some nummies.
I made the mistake of putting the wet ingredients at the bottom of the food processor. Do not do this. It will blend pretty badly. SO what I want you to do is put all your dry ingredients at the bottom: dill, garlic, and onion. Then put the lemon juice, olive oil, greek yogurt, and spices on top of that. Pulse it all together until it is smooth and creamy. You might need to add just a touch more olive oil to get the desired consistency, depending on the fat percentage in your greek yogurt.
Scoop the tzatziki out into a tupperware for storage. Add the diced cucumber and mix it gently. You want the cucumber pieces to be a little smaller so they are scoopable in the sauce. Put in the fridge and you're good to go.
So now you've waited a whole day to let that meat marinate, it's time to get cooking. The process is super simple, especially if you have friends.
If you're cooking for your friends or family, utilize a very nice loved one to make the salad. I made it as simple as possible: a bag of romaine, a block of feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. You can also add pitted olives. But olives are gross. What's not gross are pepperoncini, which you can also add. I couldn't find any at the store so that sucked for me.
ANYWAY -- tell this person (love you Jess) to just dice up everything and throw it in a giant bowl. You cannot go wrong here, and now you're free to grill up the meat!
Get those baggies of marinating meat. Grab some kebab sticks and slide 4-5 pieces of lamb on each stick, depending on their size. Heat up a skillet pan set to a medium-high heat and wait until it gets pretty hot to put the lamb on it. You don't have to add any additional oil as it's already in the marinade.
Warm up some pita bread in the oven on a low heat in the meantime.
Once your pan is hot enough, put on your kebabs. You want a really nice sear on them, so it's going to be about 2-3 minutes on each side to get a medium cooked lamb chop. Less if you want it a bit rarer, longer if you don't want it bloody at all.
Assembly is the easiest. Take your warmed up pita bread, a scoop of that greek salad on to the pita, a kebab stick directly on top, and then your homemade tzatziki sauce. Now I looooooove tzatziki, so I put a lot. Like a LOT.
This is obviously best served with a giant glass of red wine. I recommend one with your initial on it.
Chef's note: Please take the stick out of the kebab before biting down... please.... thank you.