Tue Sep 14, 2010
Shame on me, back in the winter my wife most lovingly gave me the gift of endless rotating meats with the Weber rotisserie attachment, and up until now, all of my exploits with my favorite grilling accessory have been shared with my fellow Serious Eaters, leaving my meaty minions here in the dark. That comes to an end today with one of the most ubiquitous of revolving meats—gyros. While my past adventures with the rotisserie have focused mainly on duplicating one of my favorite chickens, this gyro represents new ground for the Meatwave, so get excited as I bring you into the tasty, tasty land of the lamb gyro loaf.
Truth be told, I'm not the biggest fan of the gyro loaf. For me, the gyro has to be stacks of sliced meat piled high on a vertical rotisserie, then shaved off per order. That method produces juicy meat from the fat that constantly bastes it along with extra crunchy edges—perfection in my book. I wasn't quite sure if that method would fully translate to a horizontal rotisserie, and was kind of interested in learning how to achieve the extra fine texture of the loaf, so decided to take that direction and started the journey by grounding up two pounds of a boneless leg of lamb.
After the grind, the meat was mixed with salt, pepper, and Greek oregano, then allowed to chill for an hour in the fridge. Once nice and cold, the lamb mixture went into the food processor with onion, garlic, and some bacon sliced to add a little more fat to the game. A minute whirl produced a very fine meat mixture, which is the key to getting the end texture of the loaf just perfect.
Once processed, I wrapped the meat tightly in plastic wrap and let it firm up in the fridge overnight so it'd be sufficiently solid to withstand being skewered on the spit—I didn't want my loaf falling apart while it cooked, so this was an important step.
The loaf held together like an all-star on the rotisserie and came out beautifully browned after a 45 minute spin. In an ideal world I would have liked shave the meat off the loaf while still cooking, allowing each newly exposed layer to brown again before carving off the next, but the grill was needed for many other meats that day, so instead I took the whole loaf off and sliced it as is, and while the inside wasn't as pretty as the outside, it still had all the flavor needed.
The gyro loaf was pretty perfect, with a mellow lamb flavor that combined with the oregano and onion to give it a distinctly Greek taste. The texture was super fine and cohesive, and the meat was juicy as can be. I enjoyed mine stuffed in a pita with onion, tomato, and tzatziki, which came together to form such a perfect sandwich that I totally forgot this is the style of gyro that I normally shy away from—long live the loaf!
Lamb Gyro LoafAdapted from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
1 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, sliced
7 slices sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
Greek pocketless pitas
Red onion, sliced thin
1. Grind the lamb through the large die of your meat grinder. Switch to the small die and send the ground lamb back through. Combine lamb, salt, pepper, and oregano in medium bowl and mix together until well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to over night.
2. Place the lamb mixture in bowl of food processor with the onion, garlic, and bacon. Process until smooth puree is formed, about 1 minute total, scraping down sides with rubber spatula as necessary. You may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your food processor. Turn the meat out onto a double layer of plastic wrap and form into a loaf shape. Wrap tightly in the plastic and place in the fridge for at least two hours to firm up.
3. Light a chimney 3/4 full of charcoal. When the charcoal is all lit and covered in gray ash, dump out onto the charcoal grate. Arrange half of the coals on each side of the grate and place a drip pan between the two piles of charcoal. Run a spit through the center of the lamb and place on the rotisserie. Cook until the meat registers 165 degrees in the middle, about 30-45 mins. Slice the lamb and serve in pitas with tomato, red onion, and tzatziki.