After Passover ended, I immediately rushed out and got some delicious thick flatbread at the supermarket. One of the last nights in our old apartment, I had a major craving for gyros, but realized that, except for the bread, I had almost no proper ingredients. I had no lamb or beef, and not a clue how to season either to taste right. Since we were moving and trying to limit the groceries we bought that week, I had practically none of the ingredients for tzatziki sauce, which is arguably my favorite part of gyros. Somehow though, my craving won out over reality and chicken gyros were born out of my kitchen. The recipe for the makeshift tzatziki I somehow created will not be published here (unless demanded) as it’s probably far easier to make it the traditional Greek way than whatever it is I ended up doing. It served its purpose well enough though.
It should be noted that I know little of traditional Greek cooking techniques – please grace us all in the comments if you’d like to teach me a thing or two. I was simply following my tastebuds here. I like to pride myself on being able to recreate my favorite fast/street foods in my own kitchen (sometimes at twice the cost and time of the pros, alas), so this experiment was a fun one. I report it as a complete success that will be added to my repertoire as often as the craving hits. Who knew rosemary and salt were the secrets to getting chicken to act as an, albeit imperfect, stand-in for lamb?
Recipe: Chicken Gyros
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1/2 lb chicken breast, minced into roughly quarter-inch chunks or smaller
- 1/2 cup chicken broth, or other flavorful liquid
- 1 tbs chicken bouillon
- 1 tsp dried rosemary, ground
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced (1 clove) or dried
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 flatbread per person/serving
- tzatziki sauce
- hot sauce (optional)
- lettuce and/or tomatoes
- Mix the broth into the chicken, stir so that the meat becomes pasty. Stir all the spices together and then mix them into the chicken and broth mixture. Marinate the chicken in the broth and spices for 15-30 minutes.
- Heat a frying pan (I used a small cast iron) coated with olive or vegetable oil to medium-high heat. When the pan is hot enough that a drop of water slowly sizzles and evaporates, spoon the chicken mixture evenly over the pan about half an inch thick. Once the mixture hits the pan, do not move it. Let it sear for 3-5 minutes.
- Flip the mixture with a spatula. It should be completely cooked on the first side and even a bit burnt. If not, let the second side cook for a bit longer. Don’t worry if the mixture does not flip in one big piece. Flip each section separately if necessary. Once the meat is completely cooked, remove from pan.
- Repeat until you run out of chicken.
- Once all of the chicken is cooked, or after each batch, place a few spoonfuls (or pieces) of the chicken in a line on a warm piece of flatbread. You can warm the bread in the microwave for 15 seconds, or in a lightly greasy pan for about 30 seconds on each side.
- Add tzatziki sauce, hot sauce, and lettuce and tomatoes. Fold one edge over the other and enjoy!
You can also prepare this meat with a side of salad dressed with lemon and olive oil and spiced rice. In the picture above I added some caramelized (and a bit burnt) onions for additional texture. I wasn’t planning on it, but I think I might have to do this tonight since, after finishing this post, I can feel the gyro craving coming on.
Enjoy! Feel free to leave comments if you try these out. I’d love to know what you all think!
About this author: I'm a New Yorker who would rather cook than go out to restaurants. Sometimes I think I may be in the wrong city for that. Then I remember the exotic ingredients I'd be hard-pressed to find if I lived somewhere else. My cooking style is an eclectic range of everyday-American, Italian, middle-eastern, with extensive forays into Japanese cuisine, and some pit-stops into Indian and African cuisines. I love to try my hand at recreating dishes I taste. While I enjoy most anything with a flavor, from high cuisine to instant junk food, I have a soft spot in my belly for home-style cooking no matter the geographic or ethnic origin. Read more from this author...