Gyros are one of my favorite restaurant meals – mostly because until I perfected this recipe, I couldn't make them at home. Barring the traditional method of roasting meat on a spit, this is the closest I've gotten to the delicious, crispy texture of a good gyro. While you can make this with lamb or lean beef, venison is my favorite. Strong spices and a lower cooking temperature keep the meat juicy and enhance even strongly flavored deer. Make sure you prep the tzatziki and meat ahead of time to let the flavors marinate! If you're feeling really adventurous, you can make your own pitas fresh, but by the time this gets out of the oven, I'm too hungry to wait any longer.
For the Tzatziki Sauce:
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into large chunks
Kosher salt, for draining cucumber
1½ cups plain yogurt (Greek is best)
1 clove garlic, minced (or however much your heart tells you)
4-5 teaspoons lemon juice
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh dill
Salt and pepper to taste
Make this at least 1 hour ahead of time to allow flavors to marinate. Best if done 24 hours ahead.
- Peel cucumber. Cut in half long ways and use spoon to remove seeds.
- Chop into large chunks and place in colander for draining.
- Sprinkle generously with salt and allow to sweat for at least 30 minutes.
- Rinse off salt. Blot with paper towel to remove moisture.
- In a bowl, combine cucumber, yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and dill.
- Allow to marinate together for at least 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Store in sealed container for up to a week.
For the Gyros Meat:
1 pound ground venison
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
½ yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 clove garlic, sliced
If your ground is lean, add: 3 ounces or 5 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces. If your ground is fatty, skip this.
- Add all ingredients (vension, salt, pepper, oregano, yellow onion and garlic) to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides a couple times.
- Allow meat mixture to marinate together for at least 1 hour, if not overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Line a rimmed backing sheet with foil. With the meat mixture, create a loaf about 8 inches long by 5 inches wide by 1 inch tall.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 155-160F. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Set oven to broil.
- Cut meat loaf into 1/8in - 1/4in wide slices. Lay on lined baking sheet and broil until edges are crispy.
Red onion, sliced
Serve meat inside or on top of pita pockets with tomatoes, raw onion, lettuce, Tzatziki sauce and crumbled feta.