Saturday, February 6, 2010

Crockpot Gyros...who knew??

30+ inches of snow today meant it seemed like the time to break out the crock pot again. I read a recipe for gyros that could be made in the crock pot and I have been dying to try it. However, we live in Strasburg in the middle of nowhere - so finding ground lamb has proven to be very difficult. I did finally find lamb at the lovely (ugh) Food Lion, but they refused to grind it for me. (Yes, the 'full service' butcher's department refused to grind it because it would, and I quote, "contaminate our machines." What planet do I live in???) Anyway, the hunt continued and this time I found lamb in Martins in Stephen's City - but a price that was outrageous. So I once again left the store sans lamb. By this time over 2 months from my original quest had passed and I still had not managed to try the recipe.

And then....

I hit the Costco! They have lamb! And the BIG surprise, they have lamb in reasonably sized packages (like 5 pound roasts) at a great price, only $3.99 a pound. So today we tried the recipe. Here it is as we tried it, followed by our thoughts:
Crock Pot Gyros
For the meat:

1/2 pound ground lamb

1/2 pound ground turkey
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 medium sized onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
juice from 1 lemon

For the tzatziki sauce:

1 c. plain yogurt
1 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs mint (yeah, we have 3 feet of snow, we don;t have this. Oddly, dried dill works very well)
juice of 1 lemon

cumin - to taste
grated or small diced cucumber (we didn't have this either, but it is fine without)
salt to taste

Mix all sauce ingredients together and put in the fridge to marinate while the gyro meat cooks.

  1. Mix the lamb and turkey with the paprika and oregano and make it into a meatloaf in the size and shape of your crock pot.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic and spread it on the bottom of the crock then lay the meatloaf on top of it.
  3. Squeeze the lemon over top of the meatloaf and cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 2 hours. Test for doneness with thermometer (170 degrees)
Slice thinly and serve with sauce in pitas with your choice of toppings (we used lettuce, feta, tomatoes and slivered onions.)

The Verdict:

Not bad. It was not at all greasy like the gyros we get in the restaurants. When I sliced it I was surprised by the slight pink hue it had from the paprika. When I tasted it straight from the loaf it seemed a little dry, but once it was in the pitas with the sauce it didn't seem dry at all. I think it will be nice on a salad as left overs, too.

This was our first time ever making gyros of any sort so we stuck to the recipe - which I usually do the first time I try any new recipe. We enjoyed it but felt like it was a bit bland for our taste and a few small changes could make a big difference. When we make it again I am going to grate some onion into the meat mixture as well as add several cloves of minced/mashed garlic. It could also use a little salt and some super coarse black pepper added in, too.

I think this recipe was a really good starting point. I am going to a little more research on what is traditionally used to flavor gyros and I will be trying this again. It was certainly easy enough - and fast enough - to be a keeper.

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