I spent time in Europe as a teenager, and one of my favorite street foods was a Turkish doner kabob, delicious roasted meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie spit. I have always been a fan of good Greek food, even though the gyro sandwich is multicultural (with its origins in the Eastern kabobs and shawarmas) and the style varies depending on where you are in the world. Americans traditionally make their gyro meat with a mix of beef and lamb, and this is an excellent Paleo lamb recipe.
There’s no need for a fancy rotisserie — just a loaf pan, a deeper, larger pan, a decent food processor and an oven.
I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown, but I doubled the spices.
- 1 large onion, finely chopped or shredded
- 2 pounds ground lamb
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried marjoram
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Start with the onion. Grate it finely into a bowl and strain the liquid out. This is very important for keeping the gyro meat together later.
Pulse the grated onion in the food processor with the diced garlic and other spices. Once the spices have all been blended thoroughly and diced as small as possible, add the ground lamb. (If your grocer doesn’t have ground lamb on the shelf, ask the butcher to grind up a roast cut. Usually they are happy to do it, and freshly ground meat will make the gyros even better.)
Note: You might need to mix the meat and spices a small amount at a time, depending on how good your food processor is. Mine bit the dust after struggling to pulse the last bit of lamb into a meaty goo … RIP, food processor. The gyros were worth it. I regret nothing.
Pack the mixture into a loaf pan lined with foil (this increases the crispiness on the edges), and be sure to squeeze the meat mixture into the corners. Place the loaf pan in a larger pan halfway full of water (i.e., a water bath). Bake for 45 minutes to an hour at 325 degrees, or until the internal temperature of the meat is 170.
Next, drain off any extra fat on top of the meat loaf, and place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and a foil-wrapped brick (or something else heavy, say, a cast-iron skillet or a fat cookbook) directly on the foil-covered meat. Let it rest that way for at least 20 minutes.
If you like, before using the meat in a sandwich, salad, breakfast dish, or main course, crisp the slices of meat in a hot skillet.
If you are cooking or eating Paleo, there are several delicious meals you can whip up in no time. I sauteéd sliced onions and sliced zucchini with a handful of frozen spinach, then added the sliced meat …
This simple stir-fry also doubled as a great to-go breakfast the next day with a couple of eggs …
Of course, you can also add plenty of cheese and homemade tzatziki (plain yogurt, diced cucumber, mint, oil and vinegar) if you’re not counting calories or eating Paleo.