Greek-American gyros employ the same vertical rotisserie method of cooking as authentic Greek gyros, and both come served in rich, fluffy pita bread* with a yogurt-based sauce, tomatoes, and onions, but that's where the similarities end. Unlike Greek gyros, which are usually made with whole pieces of thinly-sliced marinated pork skewered in a large stack on the rotisserie before being cooked and shaved, Greek-American gyros are made with a large, sausage-like cone of seasoned minced lamb and beef.
*Not the thin type with the pocket...unless you are in Cyprus.
As great as the real deal is, in all honesty, I prefer the Greek-American style. When properly cooked, the thinly shaved pieces of meat offer a sublime mixture of textures. Crispy, salty edges, and moist, tender areas that have the same satisfyingly resilient texture that a good hot dog has
- For the meat:
- 1 pound ground lamb (or ground 85% lean ground beef—see note)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons picked fresh oregano leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 3 ounces slab bacon (or about 5 slices sliced bacon), cut into 1-inch pieces
- For the yogurt sauce:
- 3/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced on microplane
- 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or mint
- To serve:
- 4 pieces soft, hand-pulled-style pita (not pocket pita)
- Chopped fresh tomato
- Finely sliced onion
- Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
- Hot sauce
Combine lamb, salt, pepper, and oregano in medium bowl. Mix with hands until homogeneous. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to over night. Meanwhile, place yogurt in fine-mesh strainer set over small bowl. Allow to drain in refrigerator for 1 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place cold mixture in bowl of food processor with onion, garlic, and bacon. Process until smooth puree is formed, about 1 minute total, scraping down sides with rubber spatula as necessary.
Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. With moist hands, form meat mixture into rectangle about 1 1/2 inches high, 8-inches long, and 5-inches wide. Bake until center of loaf reads 155°F on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Allow loaf to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes (or refrigerate for up to a week—see note)
Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine strained yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
Adjust broiler rack to highest position (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from broiler element) and preheat broiler. Slice loaf crosswise into 1/8th to 1/4-inch strips (each strip should be about 5-inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide). Lay strips on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broil until edges are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil. Warm bread by placing on rimmed baking sheet and broiling until soft and pliant, about 45 seconds per side.
Spread 1/4 cup of sauce over each piece of bread. Divide meat evenly between sandwiches. Top as desired, wrap with foil, and serve.