In February, Todd and I were in Pensacola, Florida, for Pensacon and when we’re out of town we like to try at least one local restaurant. Down the street from our hotel was a Greek place that certainly seemed to be popular since it was absolutely packed when we were there, but after having supper I can see why: the food at Founaris Brothers is plentiful and tasty.
Of course, if we’re at a Greek restaurant it’s tough to resist the mighty gyro but this place offered both a gyro plate as well as a gyro bowl–we ordered one of each.
Since that day at the convention had been pretty busy, I admit I didn’t eat much at lunch so was pretty hungry. The idea that the gyro bowl came with all the gyro insides on top of rice sounded like heaven to me, and paired with their house Greek dressing (which looks like a thin buttermilk dressing but tastes a lot like tsatziki sauce) it was just what I was craving. And it was while I was reveling in the amazing flavor that I decided to try and recreate it at home.
The trick, of course, was the gyro meat: I don’t exactly own a vertical spit, and even if I did I didn’t need the massive amount of gyro meat doing this the “right” or traditional way would net me. Instead, I wondered if it’d work to season ground meat (in this case a 50/50 blend of lamb and beef) and then pat it into a thin sheet and bake it. Unlike a meatloaf or even burgers, where you’d add a binder like eggs, oatmeal, breadcrumbs, or some combination of all three, all I added to the ground Â meat mixture was the seasonings. I didn’t really measure, but here’s what I used (in descending order of amounts):
- ground pepper
Just like everyone has their own barbecue or curry blends, Greek seasoning blends are equally as personal–use what you like, skip what you don’t. And then I added just a splash of garlic-infused olive oil. Use the leanest beef you can find, but still line the baking sheet with foil–it’ll make cleanup so much easier.
As you can see, there’s an awful lot of shrinkage going on during baking, that also means there’s a lot of pan juices to deal with. After about 15 minutes at 350F I drained off the pan juices but reserved them–never know when they might come in handy. (Answer: the longer you have to hold the meat before serving supper, the more of a “refresher” it might need.) Draining the pan also allowed the meat to brown nicely in the dry heat rather than braise. It helps give the finished product a similar texture to the thin layers sliced off the vertical spit that I don’t own.
Meanwhile, I’d made a batch of white rice, diced up some tomatoes, and made a fairly standard tsatziki sauce and then thinned part of it out with additional lemon juice, rice vinegar, and some olive oil to make a tsatziki vinaigrette of sorts. I combined most of the vinaigrette with the cooked rice and then topped each serving with meat, tomatoes, tsatziki sauce, green onions, and feta cheese, keeping the rest of the vinaigrette on hand in case we wanted to add more to the bowl–you can always add, but it’s tough to take-away!
That was a very good supper. Not only was it a better-than-decdent facsimile of an out-of-town meal we adored, it’s fabulous to know we can make gyros any time we feel like it!