I have to say, my husband can be credited with being the first person to introduce me to the concept of a gyro. And the correct pronunciation. When he talked about how great gyros (year-ohs) were, I did not automatically connect it with that place in the mall's food court I had always wondered about that advertised gyros (jye-rohs). Ah. Oops. My first experience eating one was with him and a friend of mine at a bistro in Spokane. It was delicious! Basically, if you haven't gone out on a limb yet and sampled this tasty yet simple Greek fare, it is some spiced meat (chicken or lamb usually, I believe) with veggies and a special sauce (which I refer to as a cucumber dill sauce since I have no idea how to pronounce "tzatziki"), served on pita bread. It seems the meat is usually roasted on some kind of a vertical spit, then shaved onto the gyro, but as I do not possess any vertical spits at present, I had to make ours the very American way- in a frying pan. I believe it would also be fabulous on the grill, but last night that would not have worked for us. I found a simple and seemingly typical recipe online, and added the extra fun of making my own pitas.
I have experimented with pitas before, but it had been so long, I needed a refresher course- also, I wanted to try whole wheat. Snagging a recipe from Annie's Eats, I started making the pita dough early on in the afternoon. This recipe actually goes through about 3 different phases of rising. First, with basic yeast/honey liquid for about 45 min.
Then after the flour has been mixed in and the dough kneaded, for about an hour. Then, once the dough has been shaped into flat little discs, for about 30 min. (I apologize, I forgot to take very many pictures of this process.) The actual cooking was the most trying part, however. The pitas have to be baked on an already preheated surface. I don't have a pizza stone yet, so I took Annie's suggestion to bake them directly on the oven rack. Not the best idea, at least not in my oven. The perfect little circles of dough sagged through the rack and became misshapen.
With this first batch I followed her cooking time suggestion exactly as well, and for some reason in my oven it wasn't quite right either. The pitas didn't really puff up right and they were still a bit doughy inside. However, the second batch turned out perfectly!
I preheated an upside down baking sheet, then placed the pita circles on top of it. After adding an extra minute of baking time to each side, they were perfectly puffed and golden. So, at least I came out with four good pitas! The others are so disfigured, you can't really split them open, but you can pile the goodies on top! It's always trial and error, as everybody's ovens and equipment work a little bit differently. The recipe is great though. The pitas are soft and chewy, with a very pleasing flavor. We piled marinated chicken, tomatoes, lettuce, and the amazingly delicious cucumber dill sauce into them and were delighted.
The sauce has such a refreshing flavor! I'm not usually a big fan of dill, but it is wonderful paired with all the other flavors in this dish.
You don't have to make your own pita bread, but do give this recipe a try! It will have you mastering words like "tzatziki" and "gyro" in no time! :)
For the pita bread recipe, click here.
For the gyro recipe, click here.