Gyros Welcome: Everyone’s Favorite Open-Faced Sandwich Made Easy

16 Jun

Who doesn’t love gyros?  Delicious lamb, tangy tzatziki, fresh tomatoes and onions on a chewy pita.  Few things take hold of me harder than a gyro craving.  Unfortunately, Madison’s pickings are slim (one feather in the caps of Milwaukee and Chicago is an abundance of great gyros shops).  Especially in the greater Southwest/Fitchburg area.  In lieu of a trip downtown for an overpriced, overcooked disappointment from Parthenon (though my last trip rebuilt some hope that their turning things back around) or a journey all the way across town to Poppa Coronofoulos ‘, I decided I was going to take the lamb by the ears and make gyros at home.  How hard could it be?

Obviously, I don’t have a large spit and broiler, nor the appetite to take down a hundred pound log of gyroloaf before it turns, so I would have to improvise.  Nothing new for 43N/89W.  The main tasks here are preparing the lamb (marinating) and whipping up the tzatziki (some of you might call it cucumber sauce.  I call it the highlight of the sandwich).  The rest is piling ingredients into a pita.  I’ll trust you with that bit.

Lamb Marinade

  • 1 tbsp Penzey’s Greek Seasoning (coarse salt, garlic, lemon, black pepper, Turkish oregano, marjoram)
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1tbsp water

Mix above ingredients and combine with cubed lamb meat in a zip-top bag for a couple of hours, or better, overnight.


(from The Joy of Cooking, 75th Anniversary Edition)

Ingredient Rundown:

  • 1 cup greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced or grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill (I used a few shakes of dried)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt

How it’s done:

  • Stir those things together.  Refrigerate.  That’s it.  Eat it with a spoon if you like.  I do…


Ingredient Rundown:

  • lamb meat, cubed (I used lamb stew meat cuz it was cheap at ~$5/lb and I was going to skewer it anyway.  Knock yourself out and use nicer lamb steaks if you’d like, but you know we here at 43N/89W are scraping through the recession.)
  • tzatziki
  • sliced tomato and onion
  • pita bread, lightly oiled and grilled until soft and lightly browned on flat side
  • large romaine lettuce leaves (VERY optional and not very traditional, bu it helped hold the ingredients together in the pita and lent a nice crunch to the sandwich)

How it’s done:

  1. Marinate lamb meat for several hours or overnight.
  2. Prepare tzatziki, as above.
  3. Cook lamb meat, either sauteed in olive oil until medium or skewered, on the grill.  I tried both over the course of my two-day gryos binge and honestly preferred the pan-cooked version better as it just tasted more like the meat I’m used to in gyros and wasn’t overpowered by that grilled character).
  4. Let meat rest for a few minutes and slice thin.
  5. Lightly grill pita until pliable.  Assemble sliced lamb, tzatziki (LOTS), sliced tomato and onion and lettuce (optional) on pita.  Dig in.  It will be messy.  It’s worth it.  You will have onion breath.  It’s worth it.

4 Responses to “Gyros Welcome: Everyone’s Favorite Open-Faced Sandwich Made Easy”

  1. Tes June 16, 2010 at 7:05 AM #

    These recipes sound amazing. It will be perfect for World Cup meal! Thanks for sharing.

    • 43north89west June 16, 2010 at 11:55 PM #

      Awesome! Spread the love.

      Who are you rooting for?

  2. Rick June 16, 2010 at 3:29 PM #

    Beautiful! I did the same thing but added so steakum’s to the lamb to more closely match gyroloaf – which I couldn’t find in any quantity around town. I did find out that most gyro joints will sell you meat. I don’t know what price per pound they’d charge though. I do love that stuff though.

    • 43north89west June 16, 2010 at 11:52 PM #

      Yeah, gyroloaf is a totally different animal than what I had going here, but I love them both in their own way. I was pleasantly surprised how closely the marinated lamb chunks smelled to the gyroloaf aroma I’m accustomed to. Penzeys Greek Seasoning mix rocks!

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